Rotherham United: Paul Warne a 'father figure' to me says old boy Semi Ajayi after Millers exit
Rotherham United old boy Semi Ajayi has described Paul Warne as a “father figure” after his time at the club came to an end last week.
The 25-year-old was sold to West Brom for £1.5million after two and a half years with the Millers, where Warne helped turn him from a raw youngster into a Nigeria international.
It was those continued international ambitions that meant Ajayi's departure from the AESSEAL New York Stadium inevitable, but he knows the impact Warne played on his ascent.
“I look up to him, he treated me like a son and I look up to him like a father figure,” Ajayi said.
“I am definitely going to miss working under him, he showed a lot of faith in me in bringing me here and then persevering with me and believing in my talent.
“He saw a bigger picture when I first arrived because I was a little bit raw. He always believed in me and owe him a lot.”
Ajayi got to say a personal thank you as he returned to the club just three days after his sale when the Baggies visited for a pre-season friendly on Tuesday.
It was not a brilliant homecoming for him, though, as he gave a penalty away after just 78 seconds, setting his former club on the way to a 1-1 draw.
Still, he enjoyed the opportunity to see everyone for one last time.
“It was a bit surreal, I am so used to coming here, arriving and going straight to the home changing room,” he said.
“So going to the away one was a bit different, but once the game started I had to put that out of my mind and focus on the task ahead.
“I made sure I went to find the gaffer and all of the staff before the game, I spoke to them and then I spoke to all the players in the tunnel before and after the game, so it was really good to say bye properly.
“It's been a bit of a whirlwind, I signed Saturday morning and played Saturday afternoon and obviously this fixture was already on the cards, so I knew I was coming back really soon.
“But it is good that I have been able to come back and say bye and say thanks to the staff and the players and everyone who has helped me and my family.”