David Jeffrey, who has won 30 trophies in 17 years in charge of Linfield FC, is determined to "go out on a high" after announcing he will step down as their manager in May.
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Northern Irish football will witness the end of an era when David Jeffrey steps down as Linfield FC manager in May.
Jeffrey confirmed at the weekend that he will walk away at the season's finish, bringing down the curtain on an illustrious 17-year reign at Windsor Park. The 51-year-old, who was appointed in January 1997, has won 30 trophies during his tenure, including nine Premiership titles and seven Irish Cups.
Also on his impressive CV are six domestic doubles, a historic clean sweep of all four domestic trophies in 2005/06, and nine manager of the year accolades. Jeffrey, one of Europe's longest-serving managers, said he felt the time was right to walk away.
"I am unequivocal and very clear that the end of the season is right for my time as manager of this great club to come to an end," he said. "It was a most difficult and testing decision to take, but I believe it is the right one for me and the club. I have reached a point of peace and contentment with the decision I have taken and I am very appreciative of the Linfield board's understanding and acceptance."
Linfield are second in the Northern Irish table, a point behind Cliftonville FC with a game in hand. Jeffrey's charges also have a County Antrim Shield final to look forward to against Crusaders FC on 4 March. "No one should ever think that my desire and hunger to win these two remaining trophies is diminished in any way," said the one-time defender. "I would love to go out on a high and am fully focused on the remaining weeks of the season. In my mind, I have 11 cup finals left – ten crucial league fixtures and the Shield final."
Jeffrey is just one trophy short of Roy Coyle's record tally of 31 as Linfield boss, set between 1975 and 1990. On his managerial future, Jeffrey said: "
While I will be stepping down as Linfield manager, I am not stepping down from football. I don't know what the future holds, but I am only 51 and I love working with players and love the game. I will think about the future once the season concludes."
Linfield chairman Jim Kerr paid tribute to Jeffrey, who has won 571 of his 932 matches in charge. "
It will be an emotional day and the end of an era when David bids farewell at the end of the season," said Kerr. "He has contributed a great part of his life to this club, and to win 30 trophies in 17 years, including six doubles in seven years [between 2006 and 2012], is a measure of the man."
Jeffrey also spent ten years at Linfield as a player in the 1980s and early 1990s.