TOWN are to release club captain Rob Edwards at the end of the season.
The move, announced now to give the popular 35-year-old the maximum time to find a new club, brings to an end a six-year association with Town in two separate spells.
Edwards, originally signed from Crewe in March 1996 and brought back in July 2003 after a three-year stint at Chesterfield, will leave with a glowing reference from boss Peter Jackson.
And the player himself is certainly not ready to blow the final whistle on a career which has so far comprised 512 games and 85 goals.
"Football's in my blood and there's no way I'm giving up yet," said defender Edwards, who is happily settled in the Holme Valley with wife Sharon, son Kyle (17) and daughters Chelsie (14) and Mercedes (eight).
"I've played in four of the last five Town matches and felt really good and strong.
"I understand that at 35 years of age, time's not on my side, and while I'm disappointed, I can accept the manager's decision.
"But I know I can carry on for a while yet, and I'm very optimistic I'll be able to sort something out for next season."
Originally from Manchester, Edwards came through Dario Gradi's renowned youth system at Crewe, making 198 appearances as an attacking midfielder and scoring 58 goals for the Alex before then Town manager Brian Horton splashed out £150,000.
His first stint yielded 160 appearances and 17 goals, including a debut effort which clinched a 1-0 home win over Luton and a spectacular televised strike at Manchester City in November 1997, which helped kick-start the Great Escape in Jackson's first spell at the helm.
Steve Bruce was the manager who sold Edwards to Chesterfield for £20,000 in September 2000.
By now an established left-back, he played 109 matches, scoring seven times, before joining Town soon after Jackson's return as manager.
Of a player who has played 45 games and scored three times in his second stint at Town, Jackson said: "Robbie was the player I most wanted to sign when I came back to Town.
"He is an exceptional professional both on and off the field and a fine club captain.
"He made a major contribution to the Great Escape in my first spell and a major contribution to our promotion through the play-offs last season.
"But with his contract running out this summer I felt it was time for a change.
"We have circulated his name to other clubs and I sincerely hope someone else comes in and offers him another contract."
Edwards, who is likely to play for the Reserves at home to Doncaster tomorrow (2.00), added: "I've no regrets at all about coming back to Town and I'd like to thank the fans, who have been great in both my spells here."