Szmodics' 16-year stay at Colchester United is finally over
PUBLISHED: 10:01 27 June 2019 | UPDATED: 10:01 27 June 2019
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Sammie Szmodics' long 16-year association with his boyhood club, Colchester United, is finally over.
Szmodics is on the verge of signing for Bristol City, so ending an era which began with the attacking midfielder playing youth football for his beloved U's from the age of seven.
In fact, many young U's supporters will not yet have known a time when Szmodics was not a member of the Colchester United squad!
Still aged only 23 - he celebrates his 24th birthday in September - Szmodics is the shining light of the Essex club's successful Academy, but he is now destined to play on the Championship stage with Bristol City.
The Robins are reported to have fended off late opposition from Championship rivals Leeds United, plus earlier interest from the likes of Hull City and Derby County, to land Szmodics for a fee believed to be around £750,000.
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That's a little down on the alleged £1m bid made by Premier League outfit AFC Bournemouth during the January transfer window at the start of 2018.
Szmodics was tellingly not at Florence Park, Colchester United's Tiptree-based training ground, when pre-season training started yesterday.
Instead, it is expected that he will be putting pen to paper on a contract with ambitious Bristol City, managed by Lee Johnson.
Colchester-born Szmodics, despite two long-term injuries (ankle problems and then a broken leg) which decimated his 2015-16 and 2016-17 campaigns, still managed to rattle up 162 first team appearances for the U's (142 in the league), scoring 38 goals (35 in the league), most of them in the No. 10 attacking midfield role.
Ironically, he made his professional debut at his new club Bristol City, as a substitute for Craig Eastmond in a 1-1 draw at Ashton Gate in September, 2013, just four days after celebrating his 18th birthday.
And his last contribution to the U's was scoring twice in the 3-0 win at champions Lincoln City at the end of last season, which so nearly guided John McGreal's men into the League Two play-offs.
Meanwhile, the U's have signed left-footed winger Luke Gambin to the club, as he arrives from Luton Town. The 26-year-old started his career at Barnet.