Weymouth captain Stephane Zubar has signed a one-year deal with Yeovil Town in one of the shock moves of the summer so far.
The commanding centre-back, who has had spells with Plymouth Argyle and AFC Bournemouth, leaves the Terras for Huish Park after just one season, having played 23 games in all competitions.
Guadeloupe international Zubar, 30, a former Bury, Port Vale, York City loanee, had been at Weymouth on non-contract terms and the Glovers have quickly swooped for his signature.
Zubar leaves Weymouth as a firm fans’ favourite, with the Terras also being forced into a change of captaincy.
Assistant-manager Paul Maitland is “disappointed” to see the “great” defender leave the club.
He told Echosport: “We’re disappointed. We’ve known for about 10 days that it was likely to happen. It’s worth remembering that there was always this chance that it could happen.
“He’s been very honest that he’s been looking to get back into professional football. He’s said over the summer the only way he’d leave us is if professional football came his way and we can’t begrudge him that now it has.
“It’s with a heavy heart that he’s taken that decision. He’s spoken at length to myself and Mark about it. He feels it’s the last chance he’s got to go back into professional football.”
Maitland revealed the Terras have been preparing to bring in a replacement, but admitted the search will be tricky given budget constraints.
“Since we’ve known that he was potentially going to leave the club we have gone around to see who is available, we have spoken to one or two.
“The players aren’t available for the money Stephane was on. We’re talking about three times the amount but we have a couple of irons in the fire.
“We were prepared for it because we always knew it was a possibility,” he said.
Zubar’s departure also hands Weymouth the task of appointing a new captain, but Maitland is not keen to rush that decision.
He said: “We have had brief discussions about it. We’ve not made any decisions and we will probably see a variety of people in the role over pre-season, that’s not something we’re desperate to fill now.
“It’s important to get back and make sure the players are well drilled and ready for a long campaign.”
Despite the news being a blow to the Terras’ new-season preparations, Maitland fully understands the reasons behind Zubar’s exit and hopes he’ll receive a pleasant reception during the friendly with Yeovil on Tuesday, July 11.
“He’s got to support his family and do what’s best for them. He built up a bond with the club and the fans but we can’t ask a player to turn down an opportunity to go into professional football.
“He’s been great for the club but I’d like to think when Yeovil come down for the friendly he’ll get a good reception. He’s been nothing but a consummate professional,” Maitland said.
In a statement on the Terras’ website, Zubar said: “The opportunity to play full-time League football was too hard to turn down. I would not play for any other non-league club.
“Thanks to all the staff who have looked after me and my family and I wish the whole football club the very best of luck. I will always have this club in my heart and I will always be a fan,” he said.