Alan Smith admitted he cannot afford to damage his England prospects by staying with Leeds. The England striker knows he needs to be playing in the Premiership, or a top-flight club abroad, if he is to enhance his international career.
Smith, responding to the question, "realistically, you're not going to play in the Nationwide are you?" he replied: "No, I'm not a First Division player. I've got an international career to think about and hopefully the Leeds fans understand that."
Smith paid tribute to the Leeds fans who sang his name as they watched their team lose.
"They have been unbelievable all season," he said. "I have always tried my best and they have taken to me. I can't thank them enough and hopefully, in years to come, it will not be the last time they see me in a Leeds shirt."
Smith added: "For the foreseeable future I am a Leeds United player and we have to show pride and passion in the games that are left. It has been a long and hard season for us. I think we deserve to go down because we have not been good enough but it is certainly difficult to take when it comes."
Smith stressed his hope of rejoining Leeds one day and revealed his disappointment at the Leeds board's lukewarm attempts to hold on to him.
"Wherever I go, if I have to go, at the end of this season, hopefully I will still be able to come back to this club and it won't be the last time I am seen in a Leeds shirt," he said. "The club have done a lot for me and I can't be running off - but it is an important time in my career.
"I want people to know I have given my all week in, week out and if I have to walk away no one can say I've not been trying. I've done my best for this club and I'm proud of myself. When you go to a meeting and you are told they can't offer you a new contract and can't guarantee your future - if that's moving heaven and earth for someone they've got a different idea of it to me."