Derek Pender on captaining Bohemians - his 'proudest' achievement


Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle

16.09 24 Oct 2019


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Derek Pender treasures the last five years that he has served as the club captain of Bohemian FC and cites it as his proudest achievement in football.

The Gypsies skipper will grace the Dalymount Park pitch for the final time as a player on Friday night when Sligo Rovers visit for the last game of the Premier Division season.

"It's been an unbelievable experience playing here and being captain of this club has just been the proudest moment for me," Pender told Off The Ball on the day that he announced his decision to retire from football.

Pender (35) has played in the League of Ireland for seventeen years, with the last eight of those for Bohemians and he admits that his decision to retire was difficult to make.

"It wasn't easy. You don't think this time is ever going to come but the time is right for me to pack it in," Pender added.

"We've had an unbelievable season. The journey the club has been on since I've been here, it's been amazing really, the turnaround and everything that the club has done and where we've come from, from when back when I've signed.

"I just thought, great season, Europe, we got Europe and I'm getting on now, I've found it tough in a couple of games this year and I thought maybe the time is right."

Bohemians sealed qualification for Europe next year with last week's draw away to St Patrick's Athletic.

It will be the first time in seven years that the club will play European football and Pender will still have a role to play after he sits down with manager Keith Long next week, and the two determine what type of coaching role he can fill.

His centre back team-mate Rob Cornwall admits that the departure of Pender will leave a huge void in the dressing room because of his relationship with all of the players in it.

"He's pretty much everything in the dressing room," said Cornwall. "He gets on with the older lads, the younger lads, he kind of brings everyone together and I think everybody has that respect for him.

"You have the fear playing against him obviously in training! But I think everyone has that [connection] with him. You can talk to him, you can ask him about anything.

"Even if you don't want to say it to the gaffer or Trev [Croly] or whover it is, Detser is the man to go to. So it's going to be strange not having him around the dressing room."

Cornwall joined the club three years ago after spells with St Patrick's Athletic, Shelbourne, Shamrock Rovers and Derry City and he credits Pender's influence in his own development as well as in the dressing room on matchday.

"It was good to have someone beside me, especially when I came to Bohs, I was looking for a leader to learn from," Cornwall added.

"He was probably one of the right fulls I've played with. He just brings this calmness to the pitch, even when he comes out, he can build you up for the big games.

"He can sense the room. If everybody's anxious, he'll bring it down, he'll make a joke or just even smile. He knows how to control a dressing room and it's going to be strange that he's going to be gone now."

You can watch the full interview with Derek Pender on the Off The Ball YouTube channel here.


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