Stephen Warnock has opened up on leaving Blackburn Rovers and his bond with the club in what was an emotional decision.

The full-back left Ewood Park in 2009 after two years at Rovers. He played under Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and then Sam Allardyce, who he enjoyed working with most.

At the time, Warnock was also in the England set-up and fighting for a place at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Fabio Capello, then Three Lions boss, had urged Warnock to make a move up the Premier League table to boost his chances of being on the plane. That coupled, with Rovers' need to balance the books, played into his exit.

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Warnock revealed he cried when saying goodbye to the staff at the training ground and almost completed a last-minute U-turn when Allardyce asked him to stay.

"There were a few things to it. Fabio Capello had told me if I wanted to go to the World Cup, he wanted to see me at a club fighting for the Champions League," Warnock told Under The Cosh.

"To play in that level of pressure of bigger games. That summer, me, Roque Santa Cruz and Matt Derbyshire left. There was an element of balancing the books to sell the club to Venky's.

"The Jack Walker Trust had to let us go to sell the club. It was a tough decision but a decision where Villa were on the up with the money, an ambitious owner, Martin O'Neill as manager and I think the time was right.

"I sat out the second game of the season because I didn't want to get injured, cost the club money and me the move. I had a bit of fan backlash but I came in on the morning I left and Sam offered me the chance to stay with a new contract.

"But we knew the club wanted me to go. The profit on me was huge because I signed for £1.2m and sold for £9.5m. You could understand it from the club's view.

"I cried leaving Blackburn. I was gutted to leave all the staff. It was a great environment, I loved going in every day. It was so enjoyable and the team we had was great. I was gutted to go."

Warnock has gone on to forge a media career with Sky Sports and the BBC since retiring and is regularly seen in the Ewood Park press room at matches.

He recently opened up on his mental health struggles after retirement in a brave interview. The breakdown of his marriage and limited contact with his children led to him considering taking his own life but a phone call with an old friend, a trained counsellor, turned his life around.

"After you retire, I think people come out [of football] and just think life's going to be okay," he said.

"But it's about what's going to give you that buzz, what's going to give you that excitement in your life. If you find that quickly, you're okay - but you've got to find it.

"I'd contemplated taking my own life at one stage. I was in so much of a rut, I just thought I was done until I phoned him. I tell him all the time he saved my life.

'Then I started engaging more with my kids, they could notice a difference in me, and I started to get a sense of looking back on my career and not being disappointed in it. It put a positive spin on it, made me realise what I'd achieved in my career."