(Picture: Action Images)
By Chris Dunlavy
NEW Rotherham defender Ben Purrington knows he could regret ditching Plymouth’s promotion charge – but says joining the Millers was a risk he had to take.
Purrington, 20, made the £300,000 switch on deadline day, ending more than a decade on the books at Home Park.
But, with Rotherham 15 points shy of Championship safety pre-weekend and the Pilgrims in second place in League Two, well clear of the chasing pack, the pair are almost certain to meet in League One next season.
Is there a chance that Purrington, who has signed a three-and-a-half year contract, has swapped an upwardly mobile outfit for one in a terminal tailspin?
“I considered all of those things,” insists the left-back, who made 64 appearances for Plymouth. “And I know we’re both odds-on to be in League One next season.
“But you can’t turn down a chance to play in the Championship, even if it’s only for six months.
“If you didn’t take it, you might end up looking back and saying ‘Why did I do that?’
“I admit it was a hard decision. I’ve been at Plymouth for 12 years and I’ve got loads of happy memories there. All the staff and players – I’ll miss them.
“But football is quite a short career and you never know what will happen. Might I come to regret it? Yeah, of course.
“But it’s better to try because an opportunity like this might never come round again.”
Purrington was ultimately won over by the enthusiasm and ambition of Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart and manager Paul Warne.
He adds: “The fact they wanted me to play Championship football at the age of 20, the length of contract. They seemed really enthusiastic about me as a player, which made it a no-brainer in the end.
“Plymouth were really good to me, but there was no real attempt to persuade me to stay.
“I guess it was the money talking, but it made Rotherham’s keenness stand out.
“Speaking to people at the club, we’ll be making a major attempt to stay up. Nobody at the club has written that off, though obviously there’s an acknowledgement that it’s very unlikely.
“But the manager has said that, if necessary, there’ll be a big push to come straight back, which was great to hear.”
Purrington made his debut in last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Bristol City, earning rave reviews for his performance against Championship veteran David Cotterill.
Warne said his new signing had a big future, but Purrington knows he has much to learn.
“You notice the standard straight away,” he says. “It’s quicker, more technical, a lot more athletes in the team. Even in training, it’s a lot harder. The lads have unbelievable quality.
“But I’ve settled in pretty quickly. Playing against a player of Cotterill’s quality was an eye-opener for sure.
“It makes you realise the importance of the mental side.
“In League Two you can afford a positional mistake or two. Here, you can’t switch off. You always have to concentrate or you’ll be punished.
“It’s really exciting and I’m going to make the most of playing at this level, however long it lasts.”
* This article originally featured in The FLP’s 12 February 2017 edition.