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‘A great lad’: Eric Steele bids fond farewell to 23-year-old Derby County player after automatic promotion

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Derby County defeated Carlisle United 2-0 to secure their return to the Championship.

Derby has made history today as they advanced to the Premier League for the first time since 2007, winning the play-offs and defeating West Brom.

This Pride Park day will live long in the memory, as the team dropped to League One after a 21-point deduction in 2022, but was saved by David Clowes and eventually made their way back to the second flight.

Max Bird scored in his first start since he suffered a calf injury at the beginning of March, and leading scorer James Collins extended their lead midway through the second half.

Bird, 23, said an emotional goodbye to the team after 14 years, capping up his Derby career in style and easing any nerves that may have been there in the stadium.

Max Bird of Derby County (L) and Charlie Colkett of Crewe Alexandra battle for the ball during the Emirates FA Cup First Round Replay match between...

After Derby County promotion, Eric Steele says a heartfelt goodbye to Max Bird.

Although Bird signed a permanent contract with Bristol City in January, the Robins loaned him back to them for the balance of the season.

Having seen the dynamic midfielder blossom into a first-team sensation in Derbyshire, Warne was desperate to hold onto him.

Supporters hailed the Englishman’s accomplishments wearing a Rams shirt as he surpassed the historic 200 appearances for the club against Carlisle, having joined as a nine-year-old youngster in 2010.

Bird scored his tenth goal for the team, and the entire Pride Park stood as he did. Former Derby goalie Eric Steele wrote an emotional farewell to the academy graduate, calling him a “wonderful lad.”

“I think it could be standing ovation moment for Derby midfielder Max Bird,” Steele wrote for BBC Sport.

“A wonderful young man who graduated from the academy.”

Derby County must find a substitute for Max Bird.

After their promotion-related festivities are over, Clowes will calculate Paul Warne’s summertime spending budget.

Recruiting at least two new midfielders—possibly by permanently signing Ebou Adams from Cardiff City—and replacing Bird will rank first on his list of priorities.

Adams’s performance at Pride Park has been astounding, and his fans are demanding that he come again this summer.

They will be praying that this isn’t the last time they see their tackling machine wearing a Derby shirt as Bird waves goodbye to his boyhood club.

Warne can prepare the Bluebirds’ midfield for the Championship if he can persuade them to trade in their tackling machine and get Cameron Brannagan from Oxford United in exchange of Bird.

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