Veteran Fulham defender Brede Hangeland has been released by the west London outfit, the club's website confirmed on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old was former Cottagers boss Roy Hodgson's first signing at the club. He arrived in the January transfer window of the 2008 season and helped Fulham survive relegation on goal difference after a 1-0 final-day victory over Portsmouth.
The Norwegian centre-back still has 12 months left on his contract—after signing a two-year extension in 2013—but Fulham have made the decision to release him early after the 2013-14 Premier League campaign ended in relegation to the Championship.
Hangeland commented on the news via a statement, which was passed along by Sky Sports News:
In a statement released via his agent, Jon Morland, the centre-back said: "Today I received the sad news that Fulham exercised an option to terminate my contract, effective immediately.
"I received such notification by e-mail with no representative from the club meeting with me at any point to discuss this matter. After six-and-a-half years of loyalty and hard work, and the last few years as captain, I am disappointed beyond words about this course of action.
"I would like to thank the wonderful Fulham fans for letting me share the best times of my career with them. I have been very proud to wear the white shirt at Craven Cottage.
"Needless to say, I still have a lot to give as a footballer and I'm looking forward to the next chapter of my career."
Hangeland made 272 appearances for Fulham, scoring 12 goals, per Sky Sports, and the club's statement wished him all the best for the future, via Sky Sports: "The Club would like to thank Brede for his six-and-a-half years of committed service and wishes him the very best in all of his future endeavours."
The former Copenhagen player turned out 16 times in Fulham's famous Europa League campaign in 2010, which saw them reach the final only to be beaten 2-1 in extra time.
Brede Hangeland has been released by Fulham, the last of the Europa League Final team to leave the club http://t.co/YrfZweaQdG— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 3, 2014
Fulham overcame Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus, Wolfsburg and Hamburg on their way to the final in one of the club's greatest cup campaigns.
However, Fulham have really struggled recently, culminating in last season's relegation, which saw a previously solid defence concede 85 goals in 38 matches, the worst record in the league, per BBC Sport.
Are Fulham right to let Hangeland go?
Hangeland made 23 appearances in the campaign, per Squawka, and the club clearly feel they must move forward with other players as they attempt to return to the Premier League next season.
The Norway international may well be given the opportunity to stay in the English top flight as he is sure to be of interest to other clubs, especially as he is now a free agent.
Fulham fans will likely be sad to see Hangeland go considering he has been a true star for the club in a largely successful period.
Equally, the club itself may come to regret the decision, for his great experience would surely have continued to be an asset to the team, especially in the Championship.