'Thank you' - Paul Warne's message to Rotherham United fans after moving to Derby County
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Warne has ended a 20-year association with the Millers after he was appointed Derby’s new manager on Thursday afternoon.
The last six years of those were as manager where he won three promotions from League One and helped put the Millers on the map with his humanistic approach to man-management.
In an open letter to fans following his departure, Warne spoke about his heart-wrenching decision to leave and his enduring love for the club.
Warne said: “My amazing journey at this football club is over - for now.
“I avoid calling it ‘the end’ because football is a funny old game and you never know where it will take you. Rotherham United will always hold a special place in my heart and my love and affinity for a club that has given me so much will not die here.
“As I am sure you will be able to appreciate, this has been the most difficult decision of my professional career – and that includes my time as the best throw-in-chasing centre forward ever to grace the planet.
“Sorry, I’m already leaning on my humour to try and disguise how hard writing this actually is.
“I just wanted to put something together to express my sincere thanks to everyone associated with Rotherham United for all of your support over the last six or so years.
“There has been laughter and plenty of tears – what can I say, you know I’m an emotional guy – and whilst I think I have pulled out the last remaining strands of hair that I had, I have loved the experience of being able to call myself the manager here.
“I leave with memories and friends that I will treasure forever.
“From the very bottom of a teary-eyed adopted Yorkshireman’s heart, and on behalf of the staff that will be departing with me, I would like to say thank you.”
Warne reluctantly accepted the job in 2016 after a spell of five managers in 14 months and was convinced by chairman Tony Stewart he could perform in the role.
The 49-year-old is grateful for that support and also staying in a job after being at the helm for three relegations.
He added: “My first thanks are to the chairman, Tony Stewart, who saw something within me that I absolutely could not and took the incredibly brave decision to offer me the job, in a time when supporters were looking for answers.
“They were answers that I wasn’t sure that I could provide, but Tony not only stood by me, but reaffirmed that I had the qualities to be a success.
“I am no stranger to how football works, and I know that there have been times that we have hit a sticky wicket, but the chairman has always been behind what we have tried to achieve and for that, I am hugely grateful.”
Warne leaves the club in eighth position in the Championship after their best start to a season at this level since the 1960s.
And the 49-year-old says he can leave with his head held high.
“My aim here was to build a team that appreciated what representing that famous windmill crest meant and for every player that ever pulled on a shirt for us, to do so with pride,” he said.
“I think 99.9 per cent have done that. As a result, I’ve made so many friends for life with the players and staff that have walked through the doors at Roundwood and they are in so many ways like sons to me as a result of the togetherness that we have been able to create.
“We have always said that our aim was to leave the football club in a better place than we found it when we took the job six years ago, and I hope you agree that we have done that.”