Last month saw the departure of Stoke City’s longest-serving player in the club’s modern history, when club captain Ryan Shawcross left the bet365 Stadium for the MLS and David Beckham’s Inter Miami, becoming new manager Phil Neville’s first signing.

The signing of Shawcross, and the appointment of Neville, have seen the German betting experts make Inter Miami the second favourites for MLS 2021.

It was an emotional moment for the player, club, and supporters, as Shawcross represented the last remaining link with the team that won promotion to the Premier League back in 2008, but he departed with the best wishes of all.

Shawcross joined Stoke in the summer of 2007 from Manchester United, initially on loan, and made his debut in the season’s opening fixture away to Cardiff City, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win. His outstanding form led to Stoke paying £1million to make the move a permanent one in January 2008, and he went on to help the club secure promotion back to the top-flight after a 23-year absence. His central defensive partnership with Leon Cort was crucial to the club’s successful campaign, and he contributed seven goals along the way, a very impressive return for a young defender.

During the summer of 2008, Tony Pulis brought in the majestic Abdoulaye Faye from Newcastle United to provide some experience and to bolster his newly-promoted side’s defence, and as a result, Shawcross found himself in and out of the team. But he eventually reestablished himself alongside Faye as the Potters defied the bookmakers’ odds and comfortably avoided their predicted relegation.

During the summer of 2010, Tony Pulis made Shawcross captain and signed German man-mountain Robert Huth from Middlesbrough, two decisions that were to underpin Stoke’s success under Pulis. Shawcross and Huth established arguably the club’s best central defensive partnership since Alan Bloor and Denis Smith in the 1970s, and they helped lead the club to their best and most memorable season under Tony Pulis, the 2010/11 campaign when the Potters reached their first-ever FA Cup Final. Shawcross led the team out that day despite his newly-born daughter being seriously ill in hospital, and the following season he became the first captain to lead the team out in European competition since the 1970s.

When Tony Pulis left the club in 2013 to be replaced by Mark Hughes, there were those who wondered whether Shawcross would fit-in under the change in direction that Hughes was brought in to bring about. But no one needed to have worried; during Hughes’ first season Shawcross was outstanding and helped lead Stoke to their highest placed finish since the 1970s and won the club’s Player of the Year award along the way.

Eventually, injuries caught up with Shawcross, and over the past couple of seasons, he’s played very little football. However, Potters’ manager Michael O’Neill will testify as to how much of an influence he still was around the club.

And so now he’s moved on to pastures new and the Florida sunshine, where he will see out his playing career. He may well end up back at Stoke City one day, until then, Inter Miami will have a fan club in the Potteries.