MARC Pugh says an “instant connection” with Eddie Howe laid the foundations for his memorable nine-year association with Cherries.

The winger’s departure was officially confirmed as part of the club’s annual retained list this week, with his contract set to expire at the end of June.

And that draws to a close a remarkable stay in Dorset where Pugh scored 56 goals in 312 appearances and achieved two promotions following his £100,000 move from Hereford.

Recalling his first meeting with Howe and Jason Tindall back in 2010, the 32-year-old told afcbtv: “My agent back then said we were going out for a meal, myself, Laura (Pugh’s wife), JT and the gaffer.

“We all went for a meal and we just instantly had a connection.

“I loved the philosophy, loved the way they approached things and they were just so chilled. They were young people back then and you’re thinking they’re too young to be managers.

“But we had an instant connection and from that first season it was brilliant.

“They weren’t expecting me to do so well. I scored a lot of goals. We had a really good first season.

“I can’t speak highly enough of JT and the gaffer.

“They’ve helped my career no end and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for them.”

Pugh signed off his spell at Cherries with a guard of honour from players and staff before the final home game of the 2018-19 campaign against Tottenham in May.

And the Bacup-born star says that day will live long in the memory.

He recalled: “I spoke to the gaffer on the Friday before the game and he said ‘we want to do something special for you at the game’.

“I was thinking maybe be presented with something and have a quick chat. To see the lads line up at the tunnel and the crowd chanting your name was a special feeling.

“I’ll never forget it.

“It was really emotional because it was completely unexpected.

“It didn’t really hit me until the evening when I was sat down with the missus with a bottle of red that this is the end of Bournemouth now.”