Exeter City can confirm that Captain Matt Jay has brought an 18-year spell at Exeter City to an end and has signed for Colchester United for an undisclosed fee.
Matt joined the Exeter City Academy as an eight-year-old and would go on to become a crucial member of the Exeter City family, making 206 appearances and scoring 56 goals in all competitions.
Not only a fantastic player on the pitch, Matt bought into everything the club did in the community off the pitch, from appearances at local sports clubs, supporting efforts during the Covid pandemic and attending a number of events in the local community.
Matt made his first team debut in the Football League Trophy against Wycombe Wanderers in 2013 at the age of 17. Known for his great technical ability and quick feet, he had two successful loan spells at Hayes & Yeading and Truro City before making his mark in the first team.
His first goal in red and white came in the EFL Trophy in August 2016 as he fired home a first-time shot against Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium.
Matt continued his development as he netted his first league goal against Cambridge United in the 2017/18 season, and he managed to find the net four times in the 2018/19 campaign - three of which were contenders for the club’s goal of the season.
MJ's first real standout season came during the 19/20 campaign as he took home all the awards after his 20-goal haul. He was awarded a place in two separate League Two Team of the Years and was named League Two Player of the Month for March, as well as winning Player of the Year and Player's Player of the Year in the club's awards.
Matt had the ultimate honour of being handed the captaincy by Matt Taylor for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 season.
The 2021/2022 season would be the true highlight for Matt as a Grecian as he scored 14 times and registered four assists as City secured promotion back to League One for the first time in a decade!
Matt's most crucial strike would prove to be the one that confirmed promotion against Barrow at SJP on April 26, which sparked incredible scenes and celebrations at the Park. Matt was named in the PFA League Two Team of the Year for the 21/22 season.
Reflecting on his decision to leave SJP, Matt said: “It’s a really sad day leaving my boyhood club that’s been in my heart for so many years. It was a decision that was difficult to make.
“You’ve got to look back on what I’ve achieved here and the love and support that the club has shown me and given me has made me the person that I am and hopefully that’s come across with everyone associated with the club.
“In the last three or four years I’ve really been able to show what I can do on the pitch. I really try and do everything I can both off and on the pitch to really represent the club in the best way I can so I’m hopeful people will remember me for what I’ve done, not just on the pitch but off it too.
“This has been my home for a long time, and it was a difficult decision to make for me and my family, having a young boy now so I’ve been looking for some security with my partner and little one. I think the time is right to say goodbye and I’m hopeful that it will be a positive step in my career.
Reflecting on the support of the City fans, Matt added: “Thank you to the fans that have been fantastic to me and got behind me even when I’ve not been doing so well. This year has not been perfect but one thing I would always do is give my all and I think the fans knew I would always give everything so hearing them sing my name always sent shivers down my spine.
On the support of the club with the move, MJ added:” A big thank you to the club for helping get this sorted and making it as smooth as possible. Being able to do these things is really important to me, I didn’t just want to vanish I wanted to say thank you to the fans, the club, the players the staff and everyone associated with the club.”
“I really wish the club every success in the future, and it will be the first club I check every weekend when the scores come in on a Saturday.”
Speaking about Matt’s departure, Gary Caldwell said: “It’s been quite an emotional few days for myself and I can only imagine what it’s been like for MJ.
“He has been a brilliant character and a big help for me since I’ve come into the football club. As a captain he hasn’t played as much as he would have liked – not just under me, but Kevin Nicholson and Matt Taylor and he wants to play football.
“He’s at a good age where he can really impact and be a big benefit to a team and I think for all parties it was made relatively easy as everyone felt it was in the best interest, but it wasn’t easy due to his connection and the way he handles himself every day at this club.
“It’s a great opportunity for him to go and see a different club and learn a different way of playing and seeing a different part of the country. He is a fantastic servant for this football club, the promotion season and scoring the goal that got the club promoted means he will always be remembered as a legend at this football club.
Matt leaves Exeter City with our warmest thanks for everything he has done for the club, and everyone’s best wishes for his future career.