As the dust settles on Neal Ardley’s departure at AFC Wimbledon, the former player and manager has spoken of his pride in managing the Dons.

Wimbledon ans Ardley parted company earlier this week after six years at the helm and left the club 23rd in League One after picking up just three league wins this season.

Ardley said in a statement: “I am very proud of what we managed to achieve at AFC Wimbledon in my very first role as a manager.”

Ardley guided the club to promotion to League One in 2016 and was the football league’s longest serving manager until his departure on Monday.

Despite winning their last two games, an FA Cup and a Checkatrade Trophy match, the board and Ardley came to the conclusion a change was needed.

Ardley amassed nearly 250 appearances for Wimbledon in an 11-year spell and was part of the side that got to the 1997 FA and League Cup semi-finals.

In the statement Ardley recalled his fondest memories at Wimbledon and also paid tribute to the Wimbledon fans that supported him throughout his association with the club.

Simon Bassey is currently at the Wimbledon helm in an ‘interim boss’ capacity, and has recruited former Blackburn and Ireland international Steven Reid to his coaching team.

Ardley’s full statement reads:

“I am very proud of what we managed to achieve at AFC Wimbledon in my very first role as a manager.”

The remarkable run to keep us in the league in my first year in charge, culminating in the win against Fleetwood on the last day of the season, was a baptism of fire; as was my second season, managing the club through a three-point deduction, which was an equally tough and challenging time.

“The wonderful atmosphere against Liverpool in round three of the FA Cup in my third season was undoubtedly the highlight that year and who can forget the scenes from our promotion winning day at Wembley in my fourth season. The memory of standing in front of 20,000 fans celebrating will stay with me forever.

“The last two seasons have been tough in League One as expected but another visit to Wembley against Spurs and a seven match unbeaten run to stay up last season showed the character that epitomises Wimbledon.

“I would like to thank all the players who played a part in my six years but particularly the fantastic backroom staff whose expertise, professionalism and loyalty has been instrumental in everything we have achieved.

“To Erik and the board, who have been superb in helping us drive the standards both on and off the pitch to new levels and have supported me through the tough times, I cannot thank you enough.

“Finally, a message to all the fans. A lot of you have supported me through both my playing and managing spells at the club. It has been an honor and a privilege to represent your club. I have put my heart and soul into everything ‘Wimbledon’ since I was 11 years old and I wish you all the success your support deserves.”