MICKEY Walker has stressed he wants to stay in football in some capacity despite being given the boot by Doncaster Rovers.
Following relegation to League One, Rovers are under pressure to reduce costs and have opted to dispense with Walker’s services.
The 67-year-old has worked at Rovers for the last 12 years - graduating to director of football after spells as youth team manager and first team assistant manager. When he was No 2, Rovers rose from the Conference to League One.
Walker suffered a heart attack at the club’s Cantley Park training ground on February 13 but returned to work three months later after being given the all clear by his doctor. He admits it will be “extremely strange” not being involved with the club anymore.
“I am 67 and my plan was to finish my working life with Rovers and I am disappointed that I am now not going to be able to do that,” he said. “There is no bitterness in the parting. That is just football.
“I am still in love with the game and I very much would like to get back in as soon as I can. I believe I still have a lot to offer with my extensive experience and my contacts book.”
Walker, who started his professional career at Sheffield Wednesday as a teenager, thanked Rovers supporters for their backing and he also singled out chairman John Ryan.
Gavin Baldwin, Rovers chief executive, said: “Mickey will always have a place at Rovers; the legacy he leaves here is phenomenal.”
Manager Dean Saunders, meanwhile, is targeting two new centre-backs after watching out-of-contract duo Adam Lockwood and Oscar Radford join Bury and Kettering Town respectively.
Saunders has just Shelton Martis, George Friend, James O’Connor and Habib Beye who are recognised centre-halves at his disposal after seeing Lockwood and Radford move on for pastures new.
Martis is injury-prone, Friend and O’Connor have played the majority of their careers in the full-back positions and Frenchman Beye is unlikely to want to play in the third tier of English football.
Wakefield-born Lockwood, who spent six years with Rovers, agreed a two-year contract at Gigg Lane yesterday.
Shakers boss Richie Barker is a big admirer of Lockwood, who played an instrumental role in Rovers promotion to the Championship in 2008.
Barker said: “I knew Adam had become available at the beginning of May and had been monitoring him ever since.
“We had two routes we could go down in the centre of defence, either going for a younger player who we thought could progress or bringing in a player who had plenty of experience.
“Adam has dropped down a level from the Championship and so has that experience to slot in straight away and compete with the other two lads (Mark Hughes and Efe Sodje). ”
Aged 30, Lockwood is in line to make an early return to Doncaster when Bury visit the Keepmoat Stadium on August 21 - Rovers first home game of the new League One season.
Younster Radford has sealed a switch to South League side Kettering despite being invited back to pre-season training with Rovers, which starts tomorrow.