READ | An Open Letter from Paul Warne
An open letter from Paul Warne to the Rotherham United supporters...
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.
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. I would like to think that he feels myself and my staff repaid him with our work ethic every single day and in the good times that we have been able to give the club along the way. I hope that he now feels that what may have seemed like a bold decision to appoint me, now feels vindicated. My conversation with Tony surrounding my departure was tough, but he offered me the utmost dignity and respect and took the time to listen to and understand my reasoning and I appreciate that massively.
To the fans, the amazing Millers fans, I don’t really know where to start. I feel like at least 98% of you have had a video message from me to celebrate your dog’s birthday or something! Seriously, I feel like I know so many of you personally and my phone has already been blowing up with many of you wishing me well – which means the world to me. It has always been the case – in my experience anyway – that you appreciate hard work at this football club and that is an area that I was never going to sell you short. As many of you know, I have lived and breathed this football club for as long as I can remember and when taking the job in the first place, my main fear was letting you down. It would have broken my heart. Whilst there have been ups and downs along the way, laughter and tears – and of course some bloke shouting at me to leave one up from corners! – you have never stopped supporting my staff and the team.
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. I think 99.9% 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. To see the likes of Semi Ajayi, Kyle Vassell, Will Vaulks and Chiedozie Ogbene to name a few earn their first international call-ups whilst Millers players makes me burst with pride. To see the young, quiet, fluffy-haired Ben Wiles go from Academy prospect to a senior player who has made over 150 appearances for the club equally fills my heart with joy. With the Chairman’s support, we have been able to bring in players that we have identified potential in and develop them, in many cases, selling them on for a profit to help ensure the continued progression of the club. For me, our ability to have done that as a staff, ranks among our greatest accomplishments.
Of course, I want to thank those same players – and that includes every single one who has worn the badge whilst I’ve been in charge. That very first team that I took into battle at Burton tried their best bless them, but couldn’t get the win I so desperately needed for validation. Every group since then - from the Joe Mattocks to the Conor Washingtons of this world - have been an absolute credit to this club and themselves.
My final message of thanks is to the staff of Rotherham United, from Julie who takes care of our laundry to everyone in the office at the stadium and indeed, my own first team staff. I have been privileged to work alongside some very talented people – and some of the most-committed in football, let me tell you. They are the beating heart of Rotherham United. From my medical and performance team who do a superb job managing our high demands for the players’ fitness to my kit man who ensures that the likes of Dan Barlaser don’t turn up on a matchday without their boots. They have all been absolutely superb and a pleasure to come in and work with every single day.
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. We leave behind an incredibly talented group of footballers, who are full of confidence and I know will go on to achieve amazing things. In Rob Scott and his recruitment staff, you have a team of committed individuals who will continue to preserve the best interests of this club in that department and ensure continuity for whoever comes in next.
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.