Paddy Kenny admits fighting with mentor Neil Warnock until ‘blue in the face’

Ex-Premier League star Paddy Kenny used to have regular blazing rows with mentor Neil Warnock despite the manager signing him five times during his career.

The former Sheffield United and Leeds United goalkeeper will always be linked to Warnock, who he played under for the majority of his career starting as a 20-year-old moving into professional football with Bury.

But their relationship was not always a bed of roses, with the pair often going at it "hammer and tongs" after a poor performance or training ground disagreement.

Kenny, 42, said: "Neil is a tough character. We used to go at it like cats and dogs until we were blue in the face.

"Of course he always came out on top because he was the gaffer, but I wasn't one to back down.

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"Players didn't last very long if they got on the wrong side of him. Danny Cullip was one, he clashed with the boss and was only at Sheffield United a few months.

"When I went to Leeds and he signed me for a fourth time, people asked: 'Why does he keep on signing you?'

"Well he knows I could be a bit of trouble off the pitch but he also knew what he was going to get on the pitch.

"Neil is a bit misunderstood. He's seen as a bit of a dinosaur but he's been a success wherever he has gone. He's a bit like Marmite – you either love him or you hate him."

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Warnock, 71, first spotted Kenny while the keeper was playing for non-league Bradford Park Avenue.

He was soon snapped up by Warnock's Bury, and the manager would go on to sign him for Sheffield United, Queens Park Rangers, Leeds and Rotherham as the pair could not be parted.

On being told Warnock called Kenny "chubby" when he first laid eyes on him in 1998, the ex-footballer joked: "I like to think of myself as big-boned and cuddly.

"He helped me achieve what I achieved. When Neil first signed me I would never have imagined we would have gone all the way to the Premier League together.

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"I needed a lot of work done and Neil was the guy who always got the best out of me.

"He saw I was a rough diamond."

Kenny, who also played seven times for Ireland, enjoyed the most successful period of his career at Sheffield United.

He played for the Blades for eight years, included an ill-fated season in the Premier League when the Yorkshire club was relegated in controversial circumstances on the final day of the season in 2007.

The club complained West Ham United should have gone down in their place thanks to the impact Carlos Tevez, with Sheffield United claiming the Argentine's third party registration meant they should be reprieved instead.

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Kenny thinks the Tevez saga played a role in his bitter exit from Bramall Lane after he was handed a nine-month drug ban in 2009. He tested positive for ephedrine, a banned substance contained in over the counter cough medicine ChestEze.

The stopper thinks the harsh nature of his ban – after which he only played two more games for the Blades before controversially rejoining Warnock at QPR – was a punishment for Sheffield United kicking up such a stink over the Tevez affair.

He said: "Nine months was a very long time. It's not like I was trying to enhance my performance, it was accepted it was negligence.

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"My lawyer told me I would likely get three months and it would be backdated to when the club had suspended me.

"My own view is I was punished because the club sued over Carlos Tevez.

"To this day people asked if I was "off my tits" but that wasn't the case. I wasn't a drug cheat."

Kenny returned from his ban to play the final two games of the 2009/10 season, but activated a clause in his contract allowing him to leave should another club bid £750,000 for his services."

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He rejoined Warnock at QPR and while some fans believe Kenny "jumped ship" after the club stood by him during his drugs ban, he wanted to "set the record straight", claiming the club forced him out because they had Steve Simonsen coming into replace him.

Kenny also had an acrimonious exit from Leeds, where he fell out with madcap former owner Massimo Cellino.

It is claimed the Italian businessman dumped Kenny because he deemed the number 17 unlucky (the goalkeeper's birthday is May 17). While he is not sure how true that is, Cellino did force him to return from a family holiday in Cyprus to tell him he was being let go – information he was already aware of.

He said: "He made me come back from a family holiday in Cyprus before pre-season, leaving my wife and four kids there, to tell me I was being let go.

"But he'd already told my agent I could leave a month before.

"That's just one little example of what he was like to work with.

"I'd like to think the story about the number 17 wasn't true because it would be a terrible way to pick a football team but you just never know with him."

Kenny's autobiography, The Gloves are Off published by Vertical Editions, is on sale now.

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