Neil Warnock on 50 years in football, his love for Wales and the best excuse he's ever heard

Modern day sports men and women could be accused of failing to give their true opinions on their day jobs and their sport.

But there’s one character who has never been afraid to put his head above the parapet; Bluebirds manager Neil Warnock.

His no nonsense approach to life from yesterday might just be a solution to one of football’s biggest issues today - racism.

“They’ve got to ban them, ban the country from continuing in that competition, and if it happens again - ban them from everything", he told me.

“Because that’s the only way to get rid.

“We’re too soft on these things. I got fined more than they did when I mouthed off against Chelsea last season.”

Warnock has a managerial career that spans 40 years. He’s managed 16 clubs and has a record eight promotions to his name. All this means he has one of the most colourful CVs in football.

Warnock has managed many clubs over the years, including Notts County between 1989-1993 Credit: PA/ EMPICS/EMPICS Sport

But despite successful stints at Scarborough, Sheffield Wednesday and QPR, Cardiff has earned a special place in his heart.

“The Bluebirds have been unbelievable. Away from home the atmosphere has been incredible.

“It feels almost like a family now. My wife’s never been happier. She’s had a lot of problems over the last few years but she loves the fans. We go out and she ends up taking photos instead of selfies. She takes photographs of the fans with me and Sharon’s loved it. And it’s the first time I’ve seen her like that.

“That’s how they are in Wales. The club is geared now to go forward and become top club over the next 15-20 years.”

When he took over at the club in October 2016, Cardiff were bottom of the Championship with just two wins from 11 games.

He kept them in the Championship that season and guided them to automatic promotion the year after.

He’s described leading Cardiff to the Premier League as his proudest achievement.

Warnock says Cardiff City's 2017/18 promotion to the Premier League was one of his proudest achievements Credit: PA

The 70-year-old has developed cult hero status on social media and while he’s kept away from it himself he’s well aware what people say on there about him.

“People say “why don’t you go on twitter?”, I thought wow that would be suicidal, wouldn’t it? I’d get few hits.

“My daughter Amy, she’s 21 now, she does inform me of certain things. She tells me when players are saying things they shouldn’t say as well. I’ve got my back-up there.”

And despite so many years in the game, Sunday's clash against Swansea City will be Neil Warnock's first Welsh derby.

“They’re all fantastic these derbies, you look at the fixtures as soon as they come out, you know wherever you are and whatever derby it is.

"Two passionate crowds, all be having digs at each other I’m sure in the build up, and it’s an important game.

"It would have been nice to have this derby in the Premier League, but we’re both where we are and both desperately trying to get back up there."

Whether this is Warnock's last season with Cardiff or not is still to be confirmed. But there's one thing for sure - he has certainly made his mark both on and off the pitch.