Craig Morgan has been a serial promotion winner over the years, but the Rotherham United skipper says staying up this season feels like his biggest achievement of all
The centre-half was a key figure as the Millers secured their Championship survival with five points to spare, despite a three-point deduction imposed by the Football League.
And he reckons the successful safety mission means so much to him because of the quality he and his teammates came up against week in, week out in the second tier.
“I have had a lot of promotions in my career and I have enjoyed everyone one of them,” the 29-year-old revealed.
“But the quality of the stadiums you’re are playing in every week and the players you are playing against every week make this season feel pretty special.”
Morgan was part of the Millers squad which won back-to-back promotions as they climbed from League Two to the Championship and he also went up twice with Peterborough.
Recovering from the points deduction - imposed with three matches of the season left after Rotherham had fielded an ineligible player in the Easter-Monday win over Brighton - made sealing survival in the penultimate match at a packed AESSEAL New York Stadium against Reading even sweeter.
“I think it is a better achievement than going up twice,” he said. “In a way, it feels like we have had to do it twice. It certainly feels like we have had to work hard for it.”
“After drawing with Norwich (the game before Reading) and knowing we would have been safe if they hadn’t taken the three points, it would have been easy for the team to use that as an excuse.
“But what we have proved over the years is that that’s not what we’re about. We don’t make excuses. If we’re not good enough on the day we’ll come out and say it.”
The Millers stayed up despite spending a fraction of what some of their second-tier rivals did, and Morgan added: “I think what we achieved is great. We haven’t had the budget that some people have had. I think five or six of us have played in League Two so it shows how far we have come.”
Bolton Wanderers are interested in signing Morgan, who is out of contract, but he has said he is keen to stay on as Rotherham captain as long as the terms are right.
The Millers offered him an improved deal last week and are now awaiting his decision.
“He finished the season like a real lion,” manager Steve Evans said.