Ryan Edwards has paid tribute to Morecambe boss Jim Bentley for improving him as a player after completing his move away from the Globe Arena.
The defender’s three-year stay with the Shrimps came to an end when he turned down a new contract in favour of a move to Plymouth Argyle after their promotion to League One.
The 23-year-old made more than 100 appearances for the Shrimps, culminating in three player of the year prizes at the club’s end-of-season awards night for the 2016/17 campaign.
The move went through once compensation was agreed for the player given he was under 24 years of age.
He told Argyle’s website: “He (Bentley) is from my area, he’s played my position and he’s the reason why I’ve kicked on.
“Every game his advice has helped. He has been spot on with me.
“I can only thank him and offer that because it’s been brilliant and it’s what has pushed me on.
“I can only thank them for the chance I got given. I think I’ve paid them back.
“Now it’s time to move on and take on the next challenge at the higher level, which I am sure that I can do.”
The season just gone saw Edwards become a key figure at the heart of the Shrimps’ backline.
Fifty appearances saw him display his versatility as Bentley switched between a back four and back three when required.
He admitted some straight talking from Bentley was key behind his improved displays for the club.
“I think the gaffer was totally honest with me,” Edwards told the Visitor earlier in the year.
“He said that, last year, I might have tried to bring the ball down, do a Cruyff turn and play out from the wrong areas but this year, my first thought is to clear my lines.
“I’ve also had to try and lead by example because, at times, I’ve been the oldest player in defence and I’m only 23.
“It’s my time to grow up and help out people who are younger than me.”
After an initial loan move to Morecambe while on Blackburn Rovers’ books, Edwards penned a two-year deal in joining the club permanently in 2014.
Another 12-month deal was agreed last summer, during which time he became a key man for Bentley.
The manager himself hailed the transformation in Edwards’ performances during his three years with the club.
“He’s changed his squad number from six to five to I would say that’s changed him into a proper centre-half!” Bentley joked earlier this year.
“People might question why I re-signed him but he’s a young lad making his way in the game.
“He’s making fewer mistakes, he’s got stronger and he’s really learned week in week out.
“In that position, you have to focus and you can’t get above yourself; he’s done really well.”