Linfieldfc.com spoke to DJ on Thursday evening concerning media reports that Chris Casement had left Linfield to join Portadown on a 3 year deal, days after coming off the bench to set up Jamie Mulgrew's goal in last weekend's Irish Cup final.
"Chris Casement. What can I say about Chris Casement. An absolute gentleman, A young man of great honesty, great integrity, of great character, a most professional footballer and a most talented footballer and one quite frankly, who we did not want to lose.
We approached Chris several weeks ago about entering into contract talks. At that stage we agreed to wait until the end of the season. I suppose at that stage there were signs that maybe he wouldn't sign again for us.
He was very open and upfront. He obviously told us he was in negotiations with Ronnie McFall and quite simply, I couldn't blame him. I don't think anyone could blame Chris for deciding to move on at this stage of his career. It was simply the fact that his first team opportunities were restricted. That's not that I didn't want to pick him. It wasn't the case that I didn't want to put him in the side.
Yet ironically, in one of our greatest hours of need, I asked him ahead of the Irish Cup final when Michael Gault was ruled out injured and we were playing Robert Garrett in his place, that we needed defensive and midfield cover. I knew at that stage that Chris was probably going and I told him the team comes first and I would need the flexibility that he could give us and I said that I would need him to give of his best for us. He answered in the affirmative. I knew he could do a job for us when called upon.
When someone is pretty sure that someone is leaving and they still pick them in a cup final, because the team needed cover, then it says a lot about my trust in Chris Casement.
What I want to do is wish Chris all the very best in his future career, although obviously except when he's playing against us.
It's a long road that knows no turns and I know it's extremely rare that a player leaves Linfield and comes back but I think it's possibly different in this situation where Chris left of his own volition and we very much wanted him to stay. It's not as if we were saying your time at Linfield is up and we're not offering you a new contract.
We wanted very much to offer Chris a contract, so it never ever got to the point where we weren't wanting him to stay.
It's a long road that knows no turns and it could well be that at some stage in the future, he could return to Windsor Park."