The news that David Jeffrey was departing Linfield back in February 2014 rocked local football to it's core. It was the Northern Irish equivalent of Sir Alex Ferguson stepping down from Manchester United. His 17-year tenure at Windsor Park was trophy-laden and his name was synonymous with Linfield, and synonymous with success. It was a remarkable spell of success for the Blues, who won 31 trophies under Jeffrey's guidance.
Twenty-five months have passed since the confirmation of a change of management and Linfield are yet to lift any further silverware. There are caveats to that - whilst their form improved in Jeffrey's final season, in which the club lifted the County Antrim Shield and finished second, it was the miserable 2012/13 campaign which set the club back. Not to mention of course the phenomenal rise of the North Belfast duo, who look set to make it a combined four league triumphs in a row.
Yet there is undeniable truth that Jeffrey's winning mentality and motivational skills were a trademark of his Linfield outfits. These qualities shone through as the club lifted six league and cup 'doubles' in seven seasons, a run which was preceeded by lifting the inaugural All-Ireland Setanta Cup.
He is a man who is capable of building a unique team spirit and an unshakable belief among his players. He is incredibly persuasive too, outlining his visions for the club to prospective signings and making the move an exiting proposition.
He can rile opposition fans, which is never a bad thing. He is honest and genuine, and whilst that can lead to errors of judgement and the odd red-faced moment, this is something to be cherished. After all, there is almost universal agreement that football is missing the great 'characters' who stirred up emotions, for better or worse.
Always taking time to speak to the media, to put his arm around a young player in tougher moments post-match or to go out of his way to promote anti-sectarianism initiatives - these are qualities that aren't often on show and that rarely get mentioned, but they demonstrate a human side and a level of understanding, especially significant given the level of pressure and scrutiny he faced every week in the Linfield hotseat.
Personally, I always found him incredibly helpful and supportive, always honest in his opinions but never shy to back down from his corner. He demands respect and authority on a level which is rarely, if ever, shown in these circles.
He will bring his long-serving number two Brian McLoughlin with him to Ballymena - a man he can trust and rely upon and an excellent middle-man between the management and the players.
"I hadn't anticipated a return to football at this time, it was a surprise to get the call from Don Stirling inviting me for talks," explained Jeffrey on his appointment.
"What has been most impressive is the professional way the club have conducted the meeting and negotiations. The challenge and aspirations of the board were incredibly appealing, and when you look at the Showgrounds complex as well as how I was dealt with, it all contributed to my decision.
"I am pleased, proud and privileged to be here. I can give a guarantee that the club, board, players and supporters will get my total and full commitment."
Not only will this appointment be a massive morale boost to Ballymena, but the entire league is richer and more interesting with Jeffrey in it's ranks.