Neil Warnock reveals how bout of Covid-19 hastened retirement

Neil Warnock said he decided to call time on his record breaking career in football management after catching Covid-19.

The 73-year-old announced earlier this month that he was retiring after more than 60 years and a record eight promotions as a manager in the English game.

The last of his record 1,603 games came in a 1-1 draw between his Middlesbrough side and West Brom in November, after which he left the club by mutual consent.

He told ITV News that his decision to retire came after suffering ill health while battling Covid-19.

He said: "I had a couple of blood clots when I had Covid, so, you know, I don't know what's around the corner."

One of Sheffield's favourite sons, Warnock is famously remembered for his spell in charge of Sheffield United from 1999 to 2007, which saw the blades promoted to the Premier League after a 12-year absence.

He gained cult status thanks to the fly-on-the-wall documentary 'Warnock' that followed Sheffield's 2004/05 season.

Warnock spent eight years at Sheffield United. Credit: PA

He said: "I never thought I would end up with 1,603 games, if I'm being honest, and nowadays I just can't see that being beaten."

Warnock's time in Sheffield is also remembered for a game that became known as the Battle of Bramhall Lane in 2002 – the only time in the history of the Football League that a match has been abandoned because of a shortage of players, after United had three players sent off and lost two more to injury.

Warnock said: "I've been asked about that that many times. I think my quote was that I got more publicity than Bin Laden at the time."

He resigned from United in 2007 after the Blades were relegated from the Premier League after a single season.

After the game, Warnock came in for some high profile criticsm, with the actor Sean Bean telling cameras: "I just wish Neil Warnock could keep his mouth shut for a change."

"He was the least of my worries," Warnock said.

"I think when you get let down by people you've known for many many years, I think that's more of a concern really."

Neil Warnock's promotions

  • 1987: Gets Scarborough promoted to Football League in 1987

  • 1990 and 1991: Wins back-to-back promotions with Notts County

  • 1995: Promoted to second-tier with Huddersfield Town

  • 1996: Promoted to third-tier with Plymouth Argyle

  • 2006: Gets Sheffield United promoted to Premier League in 2006 after a 12-year absence

  • 2011: Promoted to Premier League with Queen's Park Rangers

  • 2018: Promoted to Premier League with Cardiff

He also revealed that when he first signed as a player for Chesterfield his boss at Burdall's in Sheffield thought he was being stupid.

"I remember the manager saying when I told him I was going to play for Chesterfield: 'Oh you're silly Neil – these walls will all be here, these bricks and mortar, football is such an iffy game.' I went back a couple of years later and it was all closed down."

Warnock has now embarked on a series of one-man stage shows. And he says, despite his association with the red and white side of the city, Sheffield Wednesday fans will be welcome.

"Absolutely, wouldn't be the same," he said. "Because the second half of the show we're going to have questions and answers so I imagine I'll get a few nice questions from that group."

Warnock's one-man show will be in Sheffield in September.