Darren Moore's love affair with West Bromwich Albion became spiritual rather than physical last night after he sealed a move to Derby County.
Albion could secure a fee of up to £500,000, depending on how many appearances the centre back makes for his new club.
Moore, aged 31, established himself as a popular player among Albion supporters and he never wasted an opportunity to confess his affection for the club. He wanted to remain at The Hawthorns but appreciated that he was unlikely to be a first-team regular.
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He helped Albion to gain promotion to the Premiership on two occasions. Despite sealing a new two-year contract last April, the Moore has struggled to hold down a regular first-team place this season.
Bryan Robson, the Albion manager, says that the move suits all parties.
"Derby have given us a good offer for Darren," Robson said. "At the age Darren is now we feel it is a good move for him at this stage of his career.
"He wants to be playing first-team football and because of the way Curtis Davies and Neil Clement have developed such an understanding in the back four we feel this is best for Darren.
"He's been a great servant to West Brom and we wish him all the best."
Moore joined Albion from Portsmouth for £750,000 in September 2001 and quickly became a cult hero, with the fans nicknaming him Big Dave for his likeness to the character from a TV advert.
He won his place in Hawthorns folklore as part of the club's promotion-winning defence in 2001-02, which set a new club record of 27 clean sheets in a season.
The Jamaica international even fired the opening goal in the crucial 2-0 victory against Crystal Palace in April 2002 to ensure that Albion pipped Wolverhampton Wanderers to second spot, and his performances throughout the campaign won him a place in the PFA's Division One team of the year.
Moore was largely restricted to substitute appearances last season but as club captain remained a vital cog in the workings of the Albion squad.
After nine months on the sidelines, Moore made his long-awaited return from a cruciate and medial knee ligament injury as a late substitute in Albion's 3-0 win at Forest in November 2003.
He quickly forged a solid partnership with Thomas Gaardsoe at the heart of the Albion defence and finished that season strongly to clinch his second promotion in three seasons with the club.
Moore will also be fondly remembered for his tireless community and charity work, which even saw him visit poverty-stricken parts of India and, last summer, led him to tackle the Great Wall of China to raise funds for his Faith and Football Charity.
Jeremy Peace, the Albion chairman, had mixed feelings over Moore's departure. On one hand, Moore will be missed; on the other, sentiment has little place in football.
"Darren has been a tremendous ambassador for the club both on and off the pitch since he joined us over four years ago," Peace said. "He has been unstinting in his support of the club in its dealings with the local community and on that front he leaves a big hole to fill.
"However, he realises he has been offered a great opportunity at Derby and we wish him every success for
the future. We hope he maintains contact with the club and the important thing is that everyone is a winner in this deal."
Moore's last game for Albion, away to Wigan Athletic two weeks ago, ended in disappointment as he received the only red card of his career with the club.
He made 116 appearances, including 11 as a substitute, for the Hawthorns outfit, scoring six times.
Jonathan Grinning, the Albion winger, says that the team need to start picking up points against their fellow Premiership strugglers to bolster their chances of staying in the top flight.
Albion have produced a string of impressive performances to record victories against the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Wigan.
But it has been a different story against sides in the lower reaches of the table and Albion's latest setback was a 1-0 home defeat to Sunderland.
"We've got a good record against top teams like Man City and Tottenham," Greening said. "But we lost again on Saturday to a team that is down at the bottom and noone was happy at all.
"We seem to do better when we're underdogs rather than favourites. It's strange because the better the team we're playing against, the better we seem to play.
"Maybe those teams don't battle as hard as someone like Sunderland and let us play our football - and that's something we have to address."
Albion are without a game this weekend after their exit from the FA Cup but Greening is itching for Albion to bounce back when they play away to Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night.
"We're all just desperate for the next game to come along," Greening said. "We won there 4-1 last season. It was a good performance and the start of positive things for us."
Andy Johnson, the Albion midfield player, has been linked with a move to Plymouth Argyle. ..SUPL: