DEPARTING County skipper Gary Warren confesses he’s sad to be leaving a club he loves but admits the chance to start anew in the Scottish Premier League was simply too good to turn down.
The former Team Bath defender this week rubber-stumped a move to Inverness Caledonian Thistle, as revealed to you in Monday’s Argus Sport.
Warren has been a rock at the heart of the County defence for three years and in his very first season was named as the Exiles’ player of the season as they powered to the Conference South title with a record 102 points.
He considering quitting the club 12 months ago when they went fully professional as he had been offered a teaching position but he eventually opted to stay with County.
The Exiles turned down a bid from League Two Cheltenham to keep their captain and he rewarded them with a series of excellent displays in their battle against relegation, before leading the side out at Wembley in the FA Trophy Final.
Manager Justin Edinburgh was desperate to keep the 27-year old defender but when former England skipper Terry Butcher came calling, Warren realised he simply had to go.
“Terry Butcher is a massive inspiration. He is an England legend and when he comes calling you don’t say no,” Warren explained.
“He can be a big influence on my career. He was the kind of player who wore his heart on his sleeve and I think I am like that as well.
“I would say I am an old-fashioned no-nonsense defender.
“I like to win headers and tackles and make sure my team don’t concede.”
Warren believes he’s ready to move to the lion’s den of top-flight football despite only being a pro for 12 months, “I know I am making a big step up from the Conference to the SPL,” he said.
“From what I have heard it will be a lot quicker, but I am up for the challenge.
“I was training to be a PE teacher but thought if I did not have a go then I would never do it.
“I am 27-years-old and the time was right to have a go at full time football. I felt the benefits right away and I think I have improved a lot in the year.
“It was a step up going full time in the Conference and this is another level again.
“There was no way I could turn this down.
“It is just brilliant, I am delighted. It’s unbelievable. Only a few years ago I would have been playing in front of a couple of hundred people for Team Bath.
“It is fantastic to get the chance to play in the SPL and go to grounds such as Celtic Park and Ibrox and play in front of 50,000.
“It is a great platform.”
Warren has nothing but kind words for the Exiles.
“My last game was at Wembley in the FA Trophy. It was a bit of a game too far for Newport and we lost 2-0 to York, but it was a great run and a fantastic experience playing at Wembley,” he explained.
“It was a great way to sign off from Newport. I had three great years there and it was sad to leave the club. I loved playing there and the fans were brilliant to me. They are a cracking club and the people behind the scenes do so much work.
“They deserve success and I am sure they will get it in the future. The club is going in the right direction. I thank them for all they have done for me in my career, but I think they know this is a great opportunity.
“The chance to play for Terry Butcher in the SPL was too good to turn down.
“It is a long way to go but I am determined to make the most of my opportunity.”