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Andy Hessenthaler has left his role as director of football at Gillingham

By Luke Cawdell

Andy Hessenthaler

Andy Hessenthaler has left Gillingham for a third time.

The man regarded by many as a club legend has gone as part of a reshuffle of the backroom staff at Priestfield.

Earlier this week development manager Mark Patterson also left the club.

A statement from Gills chairman Paul Scally said: "After lengthy discussions over the past few days with Andy Hessenthaler, the club's director of football and having refused him permission over the past few months in speaking to other clubs interested in employing him in coaching/management capacities, I have reluctantly agreed today to terminate his contract with the club forthwith, to allow him to explore these opportunities and return to football management." 

Hessenthaler led the Gills to their highest ever position in the Football League as player-manager, back in 2003, as they finished 11th in the Championship.

But he stood down from the role as manager two years later as the side struggled towards the bottom of English football’s second tier. His replacement Stan Ternent failed to save them from relegation that season.

Hessenthaler returned to the club in 2010, to replace the departing Mark Stimson, after several seasons of success with non-league Dover. He had the task of taking the Gills out of League 2. But two years into a three-year deal he was asked to stand aside again, after the team twice finished in eighth position.

Chairman Paul Scally offered him the role of director of football, which he accepted, and then had the task of searching for his own replacement. Mr Scally and Hessenthaler eventually chose Martin Allen, who led the Gills to the League title this season.

One of Hessenthaler’s tasks was to search for hidden talent, in a bid to try and find another Paulo Gazzaniga, whose sale to Southampton last summer helped fund the Gills’ promotion campaign under Allen.

But Mr Scally only recently admitted that the role may not have suited Hessenthaler, and the former boss had openly admitted he was always keen to get back into management. The arrival of a player recruitment manager, in Mike Robbins, was a hint that things would change this summer.

The current Gills manager may be looking to replace Patterson, who was brought back to the club under the management of Stimson, with Allen’s former number two Adrian Whitbread in the frame. The pair previously worked together at MK Dons, Brentford and Leicester.

Paul Scally and Andy Hessenthaler

Paul Scally and Andy Hessenthaler

Mr Scally added: "Andy has made a huge contribution to this football club over the past years and played a major role in the club achieving the success of this season past, working tirelessly behind the scenes in assisting myself and the team management with a fantastic Championship winning promotion to League 1. 

"I have long been conscious of Andy’s desire to return to the training ground in coaching or management capacities, areas in which he has had great success over the past few years and I know I speak for everyone connected to Gillingham Football Club when I wish him every success in the future. 

"He will always be a welcome guest here at Priestfield, and no doubt will be building another successful team, challenging for a promotion in the not too distant future."


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