Derby boss Clough praises professionalism of Savage

Robbie Savage
Savage has said he intends to take up offers of media work on his retirement

Derby boss Nigel Clough has said he hopes Robbie Savage is remembered as a dedicated professional not a pantomime villain, as he heads for retirement.

The midfielder, 36, plays his last home game against Bristol City on Saturday.

"I hope he's remembered more for his dedication as a professional over 20 years than for some of the pantomime stuff," Clough told BBC Radio Derby.

"He wasn't the most popular guy two years ago and he had to convince the spectators he was worthy of the shirt."

He added: "I think he's done that tremendously and performed at a consistently high standard for us.

"He's been a great influence, despite not having the legs he used to have."

Clough refused to take personal credit for the turn-around in Savage's reputation with Rams fans.

"He's turned it round himself," he said.

"We didn't go into any of that cliched stuff [about wiping the slate clean].

"Robbie has been around, he's a professional footballer and he knows the only thing that's going to get him in the team is performances - on the training pitch and on a Saturday.

"He got a chance [in the Carling Cup tie] at Manchester United. He came on in the second half because of an injury and I think he's been in the team ever since, purely on merit."

Savage, who confirmed in January that he would retire when his contract runs out at the end of the season, joined Derby in January 2008 but lost his place in the team under Paul Jewell, and was sent out on loan to Brighton, before regaining his place, and the captaincy, under Clough.

The former Wales international, who numbers Crewe, Leicester and Birmingham among his former clubs, is a BBC Radio 5 live pundit and intends to pursue a career in the media.

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