DEFENDER Dan Butler has bid an emotional farewell to Newport County AFC after deciding to leave Rodney Parade for League One Peterborough United.

The 24-year-old left-back, who has penned a three-year deal with the Posh, made more than 150 appearances in County colours after Warren Feeney signed the Isle of Wight native in the summer of 2016.

Voted the club’s player of the year in 2017 and 2018, Butler became a firm favourite with the supporters, and also won awards for his work in the community.

An ambassador for County in the Community’s We Wear the Same Shirt team, Butler opted not to extend his stay in South Wales.

In an open message to the County fans, Butler said: “After three years with Newport County AFC, the time has come for me to leave.

“I’d like to thank the club for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this unbelievable group of people on and off the field. It has been the best time of my life!

“Thank you to the gaffer and Hats for the guidance and belief they showed in me since they took over – to play over 150 games for the club makes me immensely proud.

“Thank you to all the staff and the players – we’ve enjoyed some very special moments together.

“Without this group of boys none of the good times would have been possible for any of us! “Thank you to all the fans who have supported me and my young family. I can’t put into words how much it means to us.

“Hopefully you will have some good memories to look back on as well. I’m sorry we didn’t get the job done at Wembley, as we all dreamed of!

“Lastly, thank you to Norman Parselle and the County in the Community team and for showing me the value of caring for other people.

“The experience has been invaluable and the memories made will live with me forever.

“I wish you all well in the future and, as for my future, I am excited to start my next challenge as a professional footballer.

“Good luck to all in the years to come!”

Following Butler’s departure, manager Michael Flynn said: “I wish Dan all the very best at Peterborough.

“He has been a fantastic servant to Newport County AFC for three years now and has earned this move to the league above.

“Dan is one of or if not the best professional I have worked with.

“I would have loved to have kept him but he deserves this move and he goes with my full blessing.

“Not only will Dan be lost on the pitch but off it as well through his amazing work within the community.”

Butler attended We Wear the Same Shirt community football team sessions almost every week.

He was awarded the Sky Bet League Two Player in the Community Award midway through this season at the EFL Awards in London.

The defender was also named PFA Community Champion at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.

Speaking to Peterborough’s official website, Butler added: “This feels the right time and a good stage of my career to make the move and join a team that are aiming to get into the Championship, and I am really pleased to be signing for Peterborough United.

“I am looking forward to working with Darren Ferguson and I cannot wait to get started.

“I am really grateful for the opportunity that I was given at Newport County and the management team there allowed me to go out and express myself and they stuck by me when things didn’t go so well.

“I like to think that I paid them back in the last two years and have got a lot of games under my belt.

“I really enjoy the role that I have. The modern day full-back needs to be able to defend and get forward to support the attack and I think I can handle that challenge.

“I feel like this move will allow me to grow as a player and continue to improve. This move is everything that I have been working towards.”

Posh manager Darren Ferguson said: “It is a really big signing because the left-back area has been a problem position for us, and we have now got two to compete in that area of the pitch.

“Dan has played a lot of games for his age and not only that, he has been a regular starter in the last couple of years.

“That shows his fitness levels are good and is important when we are looking to recruit.

“He fits the profile of what we are trying to do, he is a good age but not only that, he is a really good player.

“He had a fantastic season with Newport, he can pass, he can run all day, has a good spring to deal with aerial duels and I believe he will get better with us.

“We have worked really hard on our recruitment and have started from the back. We believe we have made some good signings and there will be more to come.”