'I found it really difficult' - Michael Tonge reveals story of Sheffield United exit, and how he missed family environment of Bramall Lane when he signed for Stoke City
Michael Tonge, the former Sheffield United midfielder, has revealed the circumstances behind his exit from Bramall Lane - and how he struggled to get used to leaving the "family environment" in South Yorkshire.
Tonge came through United's academy and played over 300 times for the club, before leaving to sign for Stoke City in 2008.
Manchester-born Tonge struggled to hold down a regular place at Stoke, and was loaned out five times before signing permanently for Leeds in 2013.
And Tonge, speaking on the Undr the Cosh podcast, revealed the story of his exit.
"I got a call at 10.15pm about the move and bombed over to Sheffield to meet Kevin Blackwell and Sam Ellis," Tonge said.
"I was expecting to have a chat about the move and get his opinion, but all he said was: 'Listen, I don't want you to go but I've been told not to persuade you to stay'.
"I had no time to discuss it with anyone and had to make a decision, and what Blackwell said made the decision for me. Once he told me he'd been told not to persuade me, I was thinking: 'I'm not really wanted here'.
"If I had more time to think about it, I don't think I'd have gone. I had such a tie to the club."
Tonge also revealed that his move to Stoke was so rushed that he didn't have time to undergo a medical.
"It was a surreal feeling [to leave United] and quite an emotional time," he added.
"I'd been there for a long period and when I left the ground, it was like: 'That's me done now'.
"I found it really difficult. Not because of Stoke as a club, but because I'd been at United since I was 16. I was just so used to that environment and had never known anything different.
"It was a bit of an eye-opener of what football was like. I was in a bubble at United, it was a proper family environment - and then I went to Stoke, and it was a completely different situation."