It’ll Be Off


Danny Warrender
September 12, 2008, 1:46 pm
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From the MEN Blog:

IT has been a tough couple of years for Danny Warrender. Two years ago, he was a young defender on the fringes at Manchester City. By last month, he was playing in the North West Counties League for Rossendale United. Now he’s aiming to pick up the pieces of his career in the United States.

Warrender has signed up to play for San Francisco Seals in the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League this summer. He won’t be playing against David Beckham – the PDL is the fourth tier of American club soccer. But he will get the chance to get himself back on track towards the Football League after a couple of unlucky turns saw his career take a tumble.

Manchester City’s Academy has produced more than its fair share of stars in the nine years since it was formed. Micah Richards, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Joey Barton are perhaps the three biggest names from the conveyor belt.

Not every Academy graduate becomes a City first-team regular, of course. But many of those who didn’t make it have found name elsewhere; Lee Croft and Norwich, Bradley Wright-Phillips at Southampton, Jonathan D’Laryea at Mansfield, the list goes on.

Warrender was in that latter category. He wasn’t going to be a Premiership regular, but he was, without question, good enough to play for a Football League club. When he got a loan move to League One side Blackpool in 2005, he looked set for a good career.

But then he got unlucky. In the spring of 2006, Warrender was offered a one-year deal to stay at Blackpool. But the contract wasn’t signed. And at the end of that season, Blackpool decided they couldn’t afford to keep him.

So Warrender was faced with the task of finding a new club. A trial at Stockport County came to nothing, and he found himself dropping into non-league football. It’s some tumble to go from being part of a Premiership set-up to the North West Counties League First Division in less than 12 months: a drop of eight divisions. And there’s little doubt that the young defender was playing at a level far below his ability. At just 21, he was far too young to be facing life on the football scrapheap.

Then Paul Aigbogun stepped in. Aigbogun, a defender who played for Leyton Orient, Gillingham and Halifax during a career than also took him round the League Of Wales with Portmadog and Holywell Town, had been doing some coaching at Rossendale. He was heading out to San Francisco to join the Seals, and felt that a move would help Warrender too.

“Danny lost his way a bit, which happens to a lot of young footballers,” Aigbogun said. “He did well when he went to Blackpool, but then he got a little bit disillusioned.

“But I think he will get something out of this. It will rejuvenate him. It’s a professional atmosphere in the PDL; when they do things, they do them right.

“It’s a short season over there; it’s starts in May and only lasts three months, but it will keep him training and playing over the summer. Then he might decide either to stay out there, or come back and try to get a club back in England.”

Aigbogun points to the example of Morecambe defender Chris Blackburn as a player to inspire Warrender. Blackburn’s story is a similar one: released by home-city club Chester as a youngster, he became disillusioned, but was rejuventaed by a spell in the States and worked his way back into the English game at Conference level with Northwich. Now he is looking to claim a place in the Football League with Morecambe, who play Exeter at Wembley in Sunday’s Conference play-off final.

Warrender is fondly remembered at Manchester City, and there will be a fair few at Eastlands rooting for him on his American adventure. And if it pays off, it will be proof that you can climb back from a big fall.

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