I’ve got two complaints about Stephen Warnock’s decision to retire when the season is over.
The first, and I’m sure I will be backed up here by every City fan who has watched him recently, is that he is going too soon.
To see him scampering up and down the left side against MK Dons last week, you would have thought Warnock was half his age of 36.
There is definitely another year in those legs – although the former England international may say otherwise as he plans his future away from the dressing room.
But my biggest bugbear with Warnock hanging up his boots is how old that now makes me feel.
Of course, he didn’t remember it when he came back in January but I was probably the first newspaper reporter to have interviewed him in his first stint as an on-loan Bantam.
It was outside Reading’s Madejski Stadium after a typically combative display in central midfield for Nicky Law’s team. He had got booked and City lost 1-0 but even then he spoke maturely for his young age.
He was just 20 at the time, borrowed from home-town club Liverpool, and you could tell he had the right attitude to go on to big things in his career.
Sixteen, yes 16, years later the curtain will fall on a proud run that has featured heavily in the Premier League and Championship – and two caps with England.
Fittingly, he will bring the curtain down with City – where he had taken his first senior steps such a long time ago.
It’s even more appropriate that Walsall were the opposition for the final home game on Tuesday night.
The Saddlers were the first team he faced when Andy Gray’s away goal proved the winner for a side including Wayne Jacobs, Danny Cadamarteri, Ashley Ward, Mark Bower, Gus Uhlenbeek and Robert Molenaar.
Just shy of 550 games later, Warnock remains a shining example to those young hopefuls who are setting out on their own playing careers.
Simon Grayson recently described him as a true professional, a wise old head that others can learn from because of his attitude and daily work ethic.
But he’ll always be young Stephen to those of us who were there with him in 2002.
Telegraph & Argus
Chief Sports Writer