Record-breaking Neil Warnock has finally said goodbye to football management. What will his legacy be?
As the two best managers in England faced off against each other at the weekend, another of English football’s giants said goodbye.
While Neil Warnock has never reached the heights of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, during his 41 years as a manager he’s pretty much seen it all.
Now 73 years old – and after a record-breaking 1603 games in the dugout – he’s decided to call it quits.
“I just decided to have a bit of a rest, do a bit of shopping…as you do don’t you really? Take the dogs walking, I’ve been on my bike…”Sky Sports Football
And it wouldn’t be Neil Warnock if his retirement announcement didn’t come with a bit of a joke.
“On my electric bike by the way…I love going past the ordinary guys who are struggling up the hills…waving to ‘em, you know…”Sky Sports Football
His goodbye was fitting for a man who will be remembered for his sense of humour. Like this questionable impression of Forrest Gump in a press conference.
“My team is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get…”Middlesbrough FC
Or the time when the football chat turned to Coronation Street.
“Errr….it’ll…oh I nearly got it then…not Rob…erm…”
“That’s it son, Roy Cropper. Well done. Who said that? Well done, son, up the Roy Cropper! I go out with my carrier bag, I always say… some of ‘em don’t know who Roy Cropper is, do they?”Middlesbrough FC
And of course, Neil Warnock will be remembered for his constant battle with referees.
He reckons that he’s been fined over a quarter of a million pounds over the years for his outspoken comments.
“I slowed down a bit when Sharon said right, from now on you’re giving me as much as you get fined.”
“Who was that?”
“She says if you get fined again now, you’re giving me the same amount of money for me and kids. So I calmed down a bit after that.”Sky Bet
Yet for all the jokes, and the moments of controversy, there’s more to this manager than being an entertainer.
After all, football is a brutally competitive sport. And Neil Warnock has managed more games than anyone in English football history.
Neil Warnock earned his stripes as a player, making 327 league appearances.
But he cut his career short at the age of 30, when he realised that coaching was his true calling.
He started in the non-league with Gainsborough Trinity in 1980, before moving on to Burton Albion and then Scarborough, where he won his first promotion. Scarborough went up automatically to the Football League in 1987.
Successive promotions then took Notts County from the third division to the first division, and after that came five promotions with Huddersfield, Plymouth, Sheffield United, QPR and Cardiff.
It was when Neil Warnock was at Cardiff when Emiliano Sala died in a plane crash on his way to his first training session at Cardiff from French club Nantes.
“I’ve been in football management now 40 years I think now…and it’s by far the most difficult week in my career. By an absolute mile.”BBC Sport
Neil Warnock says his career has been about proving people wrong. He says he’s left most of his clubs in a better place than when he started.
“But the players that I’ve had under me…the number that have said ‘gaffer, I’ve gotta say that it was the most enjoyable time of my career’… and that really pleases me, it gives me a lump in my throat. Because I know that players have said…and fans have…’oh I never wanted you to come in’t first place but I’m glad you’ve been here now!”Talksport
He’s been hired by 16 different clubs, and even had job offers when he left his most recent club, Middlesbrough, in November last year.
He won the Manager of the Month award a record 11 times in the Championship and as recently as October 2020.
It seems his longevity has been down to his vast knowledge of, and sheer commitment to the game of football. He might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s clear that football has been his whole life.
So goodbye, Neil Warnock. Football will miss you. Except maybe the referees.
“People think about me mouthing off and having a go…incidentally, I’ve not had one message from a referee, thanking me for me career…”Talksport
Today’s story was written by Chloe Beresford and mixed by Ella Hill.