Paul Warne keeps non-league promise as Michael Ihiekwe becomes his first summer signing

Rotherham boss Paul Warne has kept to his word by delving into non-league, making Tranmere defender Michael Ihiekwe his first summer signing.

The 24-year-old centre-half has signed a two-year deal with the Millers after rejecting the chance to stay at Prenton Park, where last year Rovers just missed out on promotion from the National League.

He made 42 appearances in a campaign that ended in Wembley heartache as Tranmere were beaten 3-1 by Forest Green – a match that Paul Warne was in attendance at.

Ihiekwe, who has experienced Football League action both in a loan spell with Cheltenham and with Rovers, is backing himself to make the step up to League One.

“It’s a league I’ve looked at from the outside and thought I could do well in but obviously I’ve never actually played in it, so I’ll get that opportunity now and hopefully take it,” he said.

I’m buzzing. It’s taken a week or so to sort everything out but now it’s done I’m made up and I can’t wait to get the season started.

“I’m looking forward to playing at other stadiums in League One and kicking on.”

Ihiekwe will arrive at New York Stadium with an unknown commodity – a winning habit.

Although Tranmere’s promotion push ultimately fell short last season, the defender was on the winning side 26 times and he hopes to replicate that at his new club.

“We won a lot of games last season (at Tranmere) and it’s a habit, so hopefully I can take this on now.

 

“I came here and I’ve seen the stadium and everything and Paul Warne told me his plans and I’m excited to start now.

“As soon as he showed his interest in me I was eager to come here and speak to him.

“I met with him last week and he just told me about everything and how the club is going forward and to be honest with you the club sells itself.”

Ihiekwe’s defection to Rotherham comes as little surprise to Tranmere boss Micky Mellon.

Rovers offered their man a new deal but will have to get used to life without him.

“We thank Michael for his contribution to us improving as a football club as well and wish him the best of luck at Rotherham,” Mellon said.

“This wasn’t unexpected so we have already been speaking to a number of players for potential replacements.

“Michael has had a good season for us so I’m not surprised he has had the opportunity to move up the divisions.”

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