Sam Hird says Chesterfield will miss the ‘calming presence’ of Tommy Lee after the keeper was forced to retire this week.
Central defender Hird has played with Lee for the past six seasons and counts the experience a privilege.
“People are coming and going every year, every two years, so to play with someone for such a long time and be lucky enough to play with a goalkeeper of that ability for such a long time has beena privilege,” he said.
“It’s a shame he’s been forced to retire at such a young age for a goalkeeper.
“To lose, not just a goalkeeper but a goalkeeper of Tommy’s stature at this club is massive for us.”
Hird can understand Lee’s popularity among the club’s supporters, but says it’s what he has witnessed off the pitch as much as on it that warmed him to Lee.
“Players are judged by fans on the pitch and rightly so, he’s been a great goalkeeper but they don’t see what happens off the pitch and behind the scenes.
“He’s a great pro, he’s a great man and he’s a calming influence.
“As a defender to know he’s behind you and what a safe pair of hands he had gave you confidence.”
Earlier this year Lee earned a first class honours degree in sports writing and broadcasting and Hird believes that no matter what career the keeper pursues, he’ll be just fine.
“I’ve spoken to him and he’s made the decision based on a number of factors that are right for him and his family,” said Hird.
“He’s got a good family, a good support network and I’m sure he’ll succeed in whatever he does.
“He’s got a good head on his shoulders, he’s got that drive in life which has obviously made him the goalkeeper he is and given him the career he’s had.
“I would guess he’s the most decorated goalkeeper in Chesterfield history and you don’t get that without having that self belief and drive.
“That’s why I think he’ll succeed in whatever he does.”
Together the pair have celebrated a League Two title and reached the final of the Football League Trophy along with a League One play-off semi-final.
The departure of Lee, who played 373 times as a Spireite, leaves Hird as the longest serving senior player at the Proact.