David Hunt says the prospect of another season on the sidelines prompted his decision to leave Crawley Town.
The right back - who had the final year of his contract terminated by mutual consent on Monday - insisted he had nothing but good things to say about the club, or manager Richie Barker.
But he said spending much of the last campaign on the bench “hurt” and that the refusal to grant him an extension beyond the 2013/14 season forced his exit.
“In honesty I’ve been totally overwhelmed by all the messages from Crawley fans. At the moment it feels very sad but the response has been fantastic and I’ve got such mixed emotions about leaving,” said the 30-year-old, who estimated he’d received more than 200 messages on Twitter.
“It’s been a great ride. In just under three years we achieved back-to-back promotions, historic points total and those fantastic FA Cup runs as well.”
Hunt was largely a peripheral figure under Barker last term and said he couldn’t risk another stop-start season. “After playing consistently for two seasons I watched a lot last year and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t hurt,” he said.
“I always respected the manager’s decision, never kicked up a fuss apart from once telling him I thought I deserved to be playing but yes that affected my decision to go.
“Over the last two or three weeks we’ve had a few long chats and the manager made it clear he wanted me to stay, and that there was a possibility of starting next season but for me there was too much of a risk of a repeat of the last season where at times there were three players ahead of me.
“I did want to stay at Crawley. I asked for an extension but I respect the manager saying he couldn’t offer that at this moment.
“But I’ve not got a bad word to say about the club or the manager, it’s purely a footballing decision and I’ll always have a soft spot for Crawley.”
Hunt has been heavily linked with a move to League Two Oxford Utd but said nothing had yet been made official.