Gary Rowett says it was ‘meant to be’ that he would return to Derby County one day - and that he is excited by the challenge ahead.
Rowett will take charge of his first Rams game against Nottingham Forest on Saturday having been appointed as manager this week.
It is Rowett’s third spell at the club having played and coached with the Rams before, and he says it is something he felt was always on the cards.
He said: “It feels like it was meant to be. I’ve been here as a player and lived in the area for about 23 years now and can remember well the time I spent here before.
“We had a year where we got promoted into the Premier League and then a season where we consolidated our place there and following that the move to Pride Park, which was monumental at the time.
“I did some youth coaching here too once I’d finished playing but when I left I felt deep down that one day the opportunity might come where I’d be able to return here in some capacity, and here I am.”
That experience of having played for Derby is something Rowett feels he can use as an advantage when it comes to trying to guide players to success, with the new man in charge also keen to utilise the club’s excellent facilities to the full.
He said: “I’ve sat where the players have sat, I’ve played where the players have played in front of that crowd where I’m familiar with the expectation, so it’s a really exciting moment for me.
“It’s a new chapter now. I know what’s expected and am familar with a lot of the team having seen them play in recent years whilst with Birmingham.
“I know there’s talent here. It’s about trying to find the right balance and right ingredients, whilst also imparting my encouragement into the team and also give the fans some good performances to cheer about.”
“The facilities here are fantastic, and where in the past we’ve sometimes had challenges trying to get what we wanted in place, that’s not the case here.
“I run a very bottom up management style, where the whole staff and those around me are there to help and guide the players.
“But we still have to demand that the players embrace the facilities and use them to get the full potential out of them. I like hungry players with drive and who want to succeed, in whatever way that applies to them individually, and the facilities are there to help them do it.”
In terms of the baptism of fire he faces in his first game, Rowett is determined to see his players get off to a good start and potentially put some form together that could yet see them challenge for a play-off spot.
He said: “Anything is possible. We’ve come in with an open mind and we want to hit the ground running and win games.
“There will be bumps, we know that, but if we can get some early results then we can earn the right to be in and around the play-offs.
“Forest will be a great game to start with. It’s what we’re here for and it’s my job to make sure we embrace occasions like that and push for a good performance.
“They say that form goes out of the window with games like this and given the recent results maybe that’s a good thing, but while it’s two teams that aren’t in great form I know what our strengths are and I want to give the players the chance to start with a clean slate and go out and give it everything.”