Darren Ward is among the latest exits at Sheffield United in the wake of Chris Wilder’s departure.
The goalkeeper coach, along with Head of Sport Science Matt Prestridge and performance analyst Mike Allen, have all left the club.
Ward was already working at Bramall Lane before Wilder became manager in 2016. He was kept on and played a vital role in developing some key players.
Most prominently, that included Dean Henderson.
Henderson spent two years on loan at the Blades from Manchester United, helping them to promotion from the Championship and then a ninth place finish in the Premier League.
During that time the 24-year-old received a call-up to the senior England squad. Henderson became the first Blade to do so since Brian Deane in 1992.
The ‘keeper returned to Old Trafford ahead of this season and has played 19 times in all competitions. Henderson also made his Three Lions debut in November.
Ward clearly played an important part in that development.
“Wardy has been outstanding,” Henderson told The Sheffield Star in 2019. “The best goalkeeping coach I’ve ever worked with.
“He’s brought me on leaps and bounds in every aspect of the game – mentally, physically, tactically – and the sessions are brilliant.
“I look forward to coming into work every day, and long may that continue. If I could work with Wardy for the next couple of years, I really think I can elevate to one of the best goalkeepers in the world.”
Darren Ward is a big loss
Current Blades number one, Aaron Ramsdale, has also spoken about the influence of Ward.
Ramsdale endured a tricky start to life back in South Yorkshire following a summer transfer from Bournemouth.
The England Under-21 international was criticised for his form as the club quickly slumped to the bottom of the table.
Yet as result have improved, so has Ramsdale’s performances. Something the 22-year-old spoke about earlier this month.
“You take criticism from people with a pinch of salt, but when it is unjustified, it is harder to do that,” Ramsdale told The Yorkshire Post.
“But that is the life of being a goalkeeper and I have chosen to do that and took it all on the chin and worked with Wardy on the training pitch.”
Ward had previously worked with Ramsdale when he came through the Blades academy and Yorkshire Live reports he backed the decision to re-sign him.
Having had such a big influence on two exciting young talents at Bramall Lane, his loss is sure to be felt strongly.