Stephen Warnock quit Leeds United yesterday with a cordial goodbye and a word of thanks for former head coach David Hockaday.
The defender said he had left Leeds with “no grudges against anyone” and praised Hockaday for ensuring his involvement in United’s season, at a time when Warnock claimed owner Massimo Cellino was “happy to let me move on.”
Warnock completed a move to Derby County yesterday morning, agreeing an 18-month contract and the option of a further 12 months with the Championship promotion contenders.
His deal at Elland Road had been due to expire in the summer and despite his appointment as captain in November and solid form throughout the season, Leeds did not offer him an extension.
Cellino told the YEP that Warnock had asked him for a new two-year deal but Warnock said: “My contract was up at the end of the season and there’d been no sort of talks with Leeds as to extending the contract, contrary to reports I had asked for a longer contract.
“That wasn’t true, I don’t know where the stories came from.
“I had six months left on my contract. If I’d waited and let my contract run down, I’d have been going into a pool of about 10,000 (out-of-contract) players. When you get a club like Derby knocking on the door and saying ‘we want to sign you’, it’s a great feeling.”
Warnock and Cellino endured a tense relationship, with reports in October suggesting that the left-back had sought the help of the Professional Footballers’ Association due to his belief that Cellino was trying to prevent his inclusion in the first-team.
But Warnock said: “I’ve got no grudges against anyone. I was made captain, a great honour, and I’ve not got a bad word to say about the club.
“I went in there under Neil Warnock and I think he lasted about two or three months which was a shame. Brian McDermott came in and he deemed me surplus to requirements but I ended up forcing my way into the team.
“This season David Hockaday stood my ground and wanted me to be involved. I think the chairman was quite happy to let me move on at the time but Dave fought my corner and gave me a chance. Hopefully I proved him right.
“I enjoyed my time there. It’s been emotional, it’s been up and down, but I’ve got fond memories of my time there.”
Warnock joined Leeds in January 2013 on a free transfer from Aston Villa.
He played 67 times for the club and scored three goals, his last in a 1-0 win over Bolton Wanderers in August.