One time Rams favourite Gary Rowett has returned to Pride Park.
The 30-year-old defender announced only last week that he had been forced to hang up his boots after a prolonged and unsuccessful battle to overcome a knee injury.
Although the official announcement was made only a matter of days ago the likeable and talented Rowett had suspected for a while that the odds were stacked against a full recovery and had started preparing for a life beyond playing.
After starting his professional life at Cambridge, and from there moving to Everton, he had found his career drifting and was on the verge of signing with Blackpool when Jim Smith took him to the East Midlands as part of the deal that saw Craig Short become an Everton player.
He readily admits that instant success and promotion made for exciting times at Derby before he was given a slap in the face by the Rams boss who invited him to go and have a chat with Birmingham boss Trevor Francis who had tabled an offer.
Gary felt that the writing was on the wall and served with the Blues for two years before moving on to Leicester and ultimately Charlton.
He carried a knee injury through the latter stages of his period with the Foxes and after a handful of games for Charlton realized he was fighting a losing battle and retired from the game.
A speculative call to Terry Westley at the Derby County Academy led to a job offer taking charge of the under 14s, which he was keen to accept.
"I’m very philosophical about everything that has happened. I’ve very pleased to be back, albeit in a small capacity but an important one for me. It was always my intention to come back to Derby and I want to stay here and have my kids grow up here. Maybe I’ll come here and watch a few games on a Saturday rather than have the fans shouting at me."
"The people here have always been very friendly and very nice to my family an I think it’s a very nice place."
"I’ve got lots of good memories from my career. If I were to pick out one memory it would be promotion with Derby. The way it all came about and the suddenness of it. We were close to the bottom after 15 games. And then we had that 20 match unbeaten run."
I was voted into the PFA Team for two years running while at Birmingham. Also playing in Europe with Leicester."
"There were lots of good times, but being the kind of person that I am I’m not one to dwell on the past. I’m looking forward and I’m very excited about what the future holds."
"I’m not the sort of person who needs the adulation that goes with being a player. And I realize how lucky I am to have had 15 years not working for a living. I’ve had 15 years off so now I might have to work for a living but I’m really looking forward to it."
"I’ve spent the last few weeks studying dvds on coaching, and reading books as well as concentrating on the things that I did as a player. I want people to know that I’m not coming back to Derby to live of the reputation of being a former player. I want to be good at my job. I realize that playing however many games I have done means nothing. I’m starting at the bottom rung of the ladder. I’ll learn off the other coaches at the Academy and I’ll learn off Terry Westley and hopefully enjoy it. And hopefully the kids will."
I don’t know at this stage how far I want to go. The way I see it I’m doing this on a part time basis like all the lads down there. It’s three evenings a week and Sunday morning matches. I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I can do that. And I’m doing that purely on the basis that I can put a lot of effort into that."
"I’m not just turning up for an hour and a half on a Monday night and just doing it off the cuff. I’ll probably spend half the day working out what to do. It’s something I want to do for 2 or 3 years and see if other avenues open up. But if they don’t then they don’t. But the main thing is for the experience."
"Long term I’d like to think I can turn into a good coach, but only time will tell. It’s not my right to do that."
"I’m not the sort of person to get frustrated if the youngsters can’t do things that I used to. It might be a problem if you are an egotistical sort of individual. I’m not like that and I’d like to think that I will be an encouraging sort of individual. Try to be very positive because although I’m new to it I feel that 14 year old lads don’t want to be told that they can’t do things, but to be told that they can d things."
"I’ve worked under some fantastic coaches and hope I can pass on some of my knowledge of the game. I think the hardest thing will be that as Derby are in the Academy Premier League so will be coming up against the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool so you are not going to win every game."
"That’s going to be difficult because kids like to win. And if they win on a Sunday they feel that they are achieving things. So it’s going to be hard convincing them that the result is perhaps not the most important thing."
In an age of win at all costs if Rowett’s enthusiasm and attitude can rub off on the next generation of potential young Derby stars then the club can only benefit.