Wigan Athletic captain leaves with a 'heavy heart' - and a desperate plea to the owners
The Zimbabwe international defender was one of six players – alongside Steven Caulker, Joe Bennett, Ryan Nyambe, Jordan Cousins and Gwion Edwards – who departure was confirmed in the retained list, released on Tuesday afternoon.
It’s understood Latics boss Shaun Maloney was keen to retain the services of Darikwa, but the 31-year-old has opted to pursue other options.
Darikwa’s tenure with Latics has been eventful to say the least.
He joined Latics midway through the 2020-21 campaign, which ended with the club pulling off the greatest of great escapes, having been in administration for nine months.
Having been given the captaincy by then-manager Leam Richardson ahead of his first full season at the DW, Darikwa skippered Latics to the League One title, picking up the trophy last April in the sunshine at Shrewsbury.
Unfortunately his stint ended on a massive downer, with Latics relegated back to the third tier after a car-crash campaign – on and off the field – during which the players were paid late on no fewer than FIVE occasions.
And as he bid farewell, Darikwa expressed his hope that the well-documented cash-flow problems are a thing of the past.
“On the day I signed for Wigan Athletic, the club was fighting for survival at the bottom of League One,” he posted on Instagram. "It was a difficult journey but, after survival, we were crowned League One champions and gained promotion to the Championship.
"Captaining that group was an honour, and to share a dressing room with my team-mates is something I will never forget.
"And I couldn’t have been more proud of the way we performed for our supporters.
"This season has been difficult, we worked ad hard as we physically could, and didn’t achieve what we set out to do.
"That’s football – sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.
"But we gave it everything and left it all out there on the pitch.
"It is with a heavy heart that I announce I have played my last game for Wigan Athletic.
"I leave with nothing but respect for my team-mates and those who helped me along the way.
"I hope things move in a more positive direction off the pitch.
"Wigan is such a fantastic club, and I would love nothing more than to see my team-mates get treated with the honesty and respect they deserve.
"Thank you to the fans for the support you have shown me, my team-mates and the hard-working staff.
"I wish you all nothing but success for the club in the future.”
Darikwa, who left his hometown club Nottingham Forest to move to the DW, made 116 appearances for Latics, scoring twice.
In January last year, he also turned down the chance to represent Zimbabwe at the African Nations Cup, to stay and help Latics in their ultimately successful bid for promotion.