As confirmed on Wednesday evening, Paul Gallagher has left his role as first team coach at Preston North End following a long-term association with the football club, to pursue an opportunity elsewhere.
There probably wasn’t anybody who expected that a young 22-year-old arriving on loan from Blackburn Rovers back in 2007 would go on to become such a modern-day hero at PNE.
Gally made 19 appearances during his first stint at the club before going on to prove his talents elsewhere, prior to his return to Deepdale on another loan deal in 2013.
Under Simon Grayson, Gally became a key cog in the side who achieved a place in the end of season Play-Offs, and when he scored in the semi-final second leg it looked as though he was going to help North End reach Wembley, but unfortunately Rotherham United came back and won on the night.
Determined to go a step further, Gally returned to PNE the following season and upped his game even further, going on to score seven and assist 17 to not only help PNE reach the Play-Offs but ultimately the Championship.
Despite the joys of Wembley, where he assisted two goals, the midfielder was forced off through injury and it was feared that might be the end of his time with the club – but the story wasn’t going to end there.
A permanent move followed and, despite the step up in divisions, Gally’s performances remained top drawer, going on to be named Supporters’ Player of the Year, while also winning the Goal of the Season award for an outrageous volley against Charlton Athletic.
He may have been getting older but his performances were certainly not deteriorating. Moving more into a central midfield role – as opposed to his forward or wide positions of years gone by – Gally was still putting in top performances week in, week out.
Funnily enough, one position he will never be forgotten for playing in was between the sticks when he stepped up to take the gloves in an away game against Ipswich Town in 2018, and he even pulled off an incredible save to earn his side a point.
You’ll also never watch a highlight reel without seeing his unique penalty-taking technique of: back to goal, run to the edge of the box, turn, smash it. And the majority of the time, it worked.
There was to be an end to his playing days, though, as in May 2021 Gally made the difficult decision to retire, but he stayed on as a first team coach, firstly under Frankie McAvoy and then under Ryan Lowe.
Gally went on to spend two seasons on the coaching staff at PNE, working closely with the manager, Mike Marsh, Mike Pollitt and of course the playing staff at Euxton.
His departure from the club was confirmed on 5th July and he leaves with the best wishes of Ryan Lowe, the coaching staff and everyone at PNE.