After eight years at Southampton, it's been announced that Shane Long is leaving the club. The Tipperary native had been an integral part of the squad for the majority of his time at St. Mary's, but Long's exit was confirmed by the club today.
Long was signed from Hull City back in 2014 for a fee of around £12 million. The Irish international made over 200 appearances for Southampton scoring 32 times.
Shane Long also broke the record for the fastest ever Premier League goal during his time on the south coast, after scoring just 7 seconds into the game against Watford back in 2019.
The Ireland international went on to contribute to some iconic moments in a Southampton jersey, which included sending the Saints to Wembley after knocking Liverpool out of the League Cup semifinal in 2017 with an injury time goal at Anfield.
Shane Long: Possible return to Reading
Long has been linked with a move back to Reading, the side where he started his English footballing career at. During Reading's 2005-06 Championship winning campaign, Shane Long made his debut and scored three goals in 10 appearances.
#SaintsFC have confirmed Shane Long has left the club at the end of his contract.
An outstanding servant & a player valued by every coach he's worked with. It shouldn't be underestimated his role as an attacking foil to the great 2014-2016 team. Reading looks a likely next move.
— Jacob Tanswell (@J_Tanswell) July 1, 2022
However, it was the following season where Long began to make a name for himself and established himself as a regular first-team player at the Madejski Stadium, striking up a great partnership with fellow Irish international Kevin Doyle.
After Reading's relegation back to the championship, Long spent the next three seasons playing his trade in the second division.
During the 2010/11 season, the prolific striker scored 25 goals leading his side to the play-off final, only to be beaten by Swansea in the penultimate game.
After six seasons with Reading which saw him rack up 120 appearances and 54 goals for the club, West Brom snapped up the signature of the Irishman for a fee of around £6.5 million.
Southampton fans react to Long's departure
Back in February, Southampton manager Ralph Hassenhutl described the important leadership role that Long played in the squad.
It's very simple: he's a super-professional guy who works hard in every session.
He's always positive, and he's not always had an easy time, not playing, waiting for his chance. Then in the cup he showed how important he is for this team.
When the club confirmed the news today, Southampton fans took to Twitter to thank Shane Long for his time at the club.
— John (@JohnOfBasing) July 1, 2022
Understandable, but as a bloke I shall miss @ShaneLong7 & on the pitch I will miss his attitude, indefatigable running & him annoying defenders ….& we will never forget THAT goal at Anfield
A great servant to #SaintsFc and when he was in the mood, a brilliant interviewee 😁 https://t.co/HK5G9GlmVK
— Adam Blackmore (@AdamBlackmore) July 1, 2022
He ran the lines like no other player. People will never understand how good an impact he had on the pitch. He's the type of player where the whole team thrives playing with. His work rate is rarely matched and the memories he gave us won't be forgotten. Thanks Shane #SaintsFC https://t.co/TqtOKNcBya
— Will 🔴⚪ (@SaintWill04) July 1, 2022
It will be very interesting to see where Long heads next.