London (AFP) – Neil Warnock called time on a 42-year career in English football management by announcing his retirement on Saturday.

The 73-year-old was in charge for an English league club record 1,603 matches spanning 16 teams.

Warnock left second-tier Championship club Middlesbrough by mutual consent in November and he has now decided against a return to the pressures of management.  

“I just thought it was the right time, really, coming towards the end of the season, there’s not really a job you’re going to get before then,” he told Sky Sports.

“I’m not saying the enthusiasm’s gone, I’ve not lost that, but when I see some of my friends who are struggling health wise, there comes a time where you have to let your family enjoy a little bit more of your time, in particular my wife Sharon.”

Warnock, considered a promotion specialist, has often divided opinion among fans.

His aggressive staredown of a television camera before a 2018/19 Premier League game as Cardiff manager became an internet sensation and he was also well known for berating officials who ruled against his sides.

Warnock’s odyssey took him from non-league football to the Premier League, achieving promotion to England’s top flight with Sheffield United, QPR and Cardiff.

But he said Saturday it was time for a change of lifestyle.

“When you’re a manager you’re very selfish, you take your job home with you whether you’re on a high or a low and it’s very difficult for your wife and kids,” he explained.

“It’s hard to replicate the final whistle when you’ve won a game, there’s nothing quite like that in normal life, and you have to realise you’re not going to get that buzz again in that situation. 

“But I’m doing a couple of evenings in the theatre, and I imagine I’ll still be nervous before them!”