JOHN McGreal says he is 'deeply saddened' to have left Colchester United.

McGreal parted company with the U's on Tuesday, after spending more than four years in charge as head coach and 11 years in total at the JobServe Community Stadium.

The 48-year-old, who led Colchester to the League Two play-offs this season along with the Carabao Cup quarter-finals and a clash with Manchester United, has issued a statement following his exit from the club, wishing them success in the future.

McGreal says he is proud of the part he played at Colchester - and that the memories of this season will live with him forever.

McGreal said: "I am deeply saddened to leave Colchester United. I have spent 11 years of my footballing life at the club, including 4 fantastic years in charge of first team affairs.

"I am grateful to Robbie Cowling for giving me the opportunity to manage this great football club and I wish him and everyone associated with the club all the best moving forward.

"I want to thank my backroom team and everyone I have worked with over the years.

"A special mention must go to Steve Ball, his wife and their family whose support has been invaluable to me and my family over the last 4 years. We will never forget.

"The players have been an absolute pleasure to coach and work with every day and I am sure they will fully expect to challenge for promotion again next season, after narrowly missing out this season.

"I am proud of the big part I have played in my various roles at the club including helping to build and promote the Academy.

"Being able to provide pathways for players through the various age groups into first team football and watch them move on and progress in their careers has been hugely satisfying.

"The memories of this season will live with me forever.

"Reaching the quarter finals of the Carabao Cup for the first time in 45 years with various victories against Swindon Town, Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur and Crawley Town.

"Playing Manchester United at Old Trafford for the first time in the clubs history in front of nearly 6,000 Colchester United fans.

"In the league we had a run of 16 games unbeaten, the longest unbeaten run in the EFL culminating in the club’s first play-off semi-final in 22 years, narrowly missing out, in extra-time, on the play-off final.

"Finally, I want to say a special thank you to the fans, the Old and New Generation.

"The relationship between the fans and the team is the best I’ve ever known it and I am really proud to have been part of it and share so many amazing memories with them.

"A special mention goes to the South Stand and the “Drum”.

"It's a huge part of the South Stand’s DNA and I was delighted to have played a part in bringing it back, especially with the number of goals we scored attacking the South Stand!!

"I wish the club every success for the future.

"Stay safe everyone and hopefully our paths will cross again soon."