Haverfordwest County manager Nicky Hayen is to leave the Bluebirds and return to his native Belgium, after being snapped up by the country’s league champions.

Club Brugge, the Belgian champions, have met a release clause in the County manager’s contract, and he has agreed terms to take over the club’s Under-23s, Club NXT.

Club NXT play in the 1B Pro League, the second tier of Belgian football.

Hayen, 41, joined the Bluebirds in January as he successfully guided the club out of the relegation zone and secured safety in the JD Cymru Premier for next season.

“I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who is, or was involved during my time at Haverfordwest County AFC," said Hayen.

“I am not going to thank any one individual because I don’t want to forget anyone. Everyone has embraced me since day one, and contributed in one or another way to the pathway we created together.

“We created a more professional platform on and off the pitch, we all worked hard to create an environment where people wanted to be: players, coaches, fans, etc, and I see it especially as a compliment when this comes from other managers from this league.

“I truly hope that everyone continues what we started and created together, and that this will be at least the minimum standard for the future.

“Even if it was a short time, I really loved my time in and around the club, and it was a pleasure to work with all of you. Everyone worked so hard and that made this period exciting, intense and emotional.

“I see it as a compliment that people are gutted, understanding and proud at the same time, but it made me really sad that I had to inform you that I would leave the club – but also very proud and honoured to have this huge opportunity of working for Club Brugge.

“I genuinely wish and want to see that ‘you can have it all’, even when you suffer a disappointment, but I truly believe that you can convert this disappointment into a strength, because this club can do this.

“I will be this club’s number one supporter, and I will always remember my time in Haviewest!

“I don’t say goodbye, but see you one day! So, truly, thank you – diolch – dank u.”

During Hayen’s short and sweet tenure at the Ogi Bridge Meadow Stadium, his side broke the record for County’s biggest top-flight home win (6-1 vs Cefn Druids) and away win (6-0 at Aberystwyth Town).

Club chairman Rob Edwards said: “I am desperately disappointed to lose Nicky. His achievements and impact on and off the pitch in such a short space of time were remarkable, and justified the faith we showed in him when we appointed him.

“As disappointed as I am to lose Nicky, I fully appreciate his reasoning. None more so than having the opportunity to work for the biggest club in your home country, and being so close to your family.”

The National Wales: Nicky Hayen has revealed he will be leaving the Bluebirds for Club BruggeNicky Hayen has revealed he will be leaving the Bluebirds for Club Brugge

A spokesperson from Haverfordwest County added: “The extent of Nicky’s impact was illustrated by the fact that, heading into the final day of the season, the club were in with a realistic chance of recording a seventh-placed finish, and topping the JD Cymru Premier Play-Off Conference.

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“While a 2-1 defeat to Cardiff Metropolitan meant we eventually finished 10th, there can be no downplaying the turnaround that led to us being in such a position.

“The club would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Nicky for his efforts during his time with us in Pembrokeshire, and we wish him all the best back in Belgium.”

The club said that a statement would be made shortly regarding finding a new manager ahead of the 2022/23 JD Cymru Premier season.

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