SOUTHEND United’s head of academy coaching Ian Hart is to leave the club after seven years at Roots Hall.

Hart has played a key part in helping Blues to produce a number of players in recent seasons.

But he has now decided to move on. 

"Back in March I decided that after seven seasons at Southend United it is time for a new challenge," said Hart.

"With the new business Level 7 Academy needing more of my time and with the situation at Southend looking bleak I made the bold move to hand in my resignation."

However, Hart remains proud of what has been achieved during his time at the club.

"Looking back at the seven seasons there are lots of areas I take great pride in knowing I had an impact in," said Hart.

"From staff moving to bigger clubs, players being sold to Manchester City, Tottenham,C helsea to name a few, to seeing players from the academy making their debuts for the 1st team.

"I have been able to coach in the first team environment when seeing managers come and go, under 23’s, under 18’s and each age group within the academy which has added to my knowledge.

"It was a fantastic opportunity to get the job in which I have made friends for life, worked with some great coaches, players, being able to study with the Premier League on the Elite Head of Coaching course working and sharing with other HOC has been invaluable to my learning."

But Hart is now looking towards a new challenge. 

"Now having evenings and weekends back I will be able to look at what to do next," said Hart.

"On reflection I still want to stay in the game at a good level so may look at an under 16 role part time or go back into non league football as a coach or assistant if any opportunities become available.

"But I do hope that Southend bounce back as the club have some fantastic people working there who care and love the club and also some brilliant players who have a great opportunity making it within the game."