DEAN Gerken has been praised for his 'exceptional career' as he bids a fond farewell to Colchester United.

The experienced goalkeeper is set to leave the U's this summer at the end of his contract.

Gerken, who has enjoyed a fine career spanning two decades, was presented with a special shirt by his Colchester team-mates at their Florence Park training ground yesterday, ahead of his departure.

The 36-year-old made 206 appearances in total for the U's in his two spells for the club, having progressed through their youth ranks and made his senior debut for them back in 2004.

But his appearances have been severely restricted, this season.

Colchester interim head coach Wayne Brown, who played alongside Gerken in his first spell at the club, says the shot-stopper has been a big asset.


Brown said: “Dean has been massive for the club, not only since he came back from Ipswich but also with the involvement that he had as a youngster, finding his feet and kicking on and having the career that he’s had.

“He’s had an exceptional career at the clubs that he’s played at, the things that he’s done in his career.

“It’s testament to him as an individual that his character is second to none and he’s a great professional.


“I think the club can be very grateful with the service that he’s given them.

“He’s done himself and his family proud, with the career that he’s had.

“Obviously frustrated this year not to have more involvement because of one thing or another but he has to look at the bigger picture and the career as a whole.

“He’s been fantastic to work with.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with him as a player as well, when we had the successes that we did and he’s been a big part of that, for the football club.

“The club should be very thankful that they’ve had somebody like him giving the service that he has and playing the number of games that he has, with the standards that he’s got.

“He’s been a real asset for the football club."


Gerken's final Colchester appearance came in their Papa John's Trophy game against West Ham United U21, last September.

Fittingly, he helped the U's keep a clean sheet and the former Ipswich Town and Bristol City keeper is now set for pastures new.

“I think he’d be a great coach," added Brown.

“Everyone is looking for their next chapter when you come away from playing the game.

“It’s always a really big test as an individual, because it’s all you’ve ever known and now you’ve got to try and find your way into a different pathway.

“A lot of people go down the coaching route and Dean has so much to give, so I hope he does go down a route where he is involved in the game because he has got a lot to give."