Eastleigh goalkeeper Graham Stack has joined Premier League Watford as their head of academy goalkeeping.

The 36 year-old, who began is career as a trainee at Arsenal, has retired from playing to join the Premier League’s surprise package.

Stack, who has made 51 appearances for Eastleigh since signing in December 2016, told eastleighfc.com: “It’s a sad day for me to retire from playing. After I was approached by Watford to take up this exciting role I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.”

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Eastleigh and I would like to thank the supporters, players, staff and managers who have all been part of my time here. There is a great group of lads here this season and I am convinced [Andy Hessenthaler] will get it right. I wish the club every success in the future”

Eastleigh manager Hessenthaler believes  Stack will go on to "even bigger and better things".

After the former Barnet stopper reached an agreement with the Spitfires to have his contact terminated with immediate effect, Hessenthaler acknowledged: "It's something he couldn't turn down.

"He lives not far from Watford and feels he's got to put his family first.

"Stacky's had a tremendous career and, since I've been at Eastleigh, we've got on very well.

"He's an experienced pro and a good man to have in the dressing room.

"He finished off with a fantastic performance for us at Hartepool last week. I thought he was excellent.

"I'm sure he'll take lots of fond memories with him and I can see him going on to bigger and better things at Watford.

"It's a club I know well from playing days and I can see him working with the first team at some stage."

With goalkeeping coach Ross Flitney around, Eastleigh have no immediate concerns for Saturday’s BT-televised National League game at home to Dagenham & Redbridge (12.35pm).

But Hessenthaler does not see him as a long-term replacement for Stack.

"Ultimately Ross is on the management team. He's a big part of the coaching staff with myself and Ben Strevens, plus Andy Cook the physio. That's where I see his future," said the boss. "Whenever we've got a problem, Ross will step in a play, but I'm hoping to get a keeper in before Saturday."

Paul McCallum (Achilles) and Reda Johnson (ankle) have missed training this week, but will hopefully face Dagenham.

Left-back Michael Green is fit to go again, but Ben Williamson (hamstring) and George Dowling (glute) are unlikely to be involved.

"We've got to make a decision on Ben, but I don't see him starting," said Hessenthaler. "George played 60 minutes at Bournemouth the other night (Hants Senior Cup) but he needs more training."