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Former Rover returns 'home'

1 April 2015

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Rovers are delighted to announce the return of former midfielder Damien Johnson, who has taken up a key coaching position at the Academy.

The 36-year-old, who came through Rovers' youth ranks and made over 80 appearances for the club, will take charge of the Under-14s.
A Northern Ireland international, who collected over 50 caps for his country, Johnson also enjoyed a hugely successful spell at Birmingham City, before ending his playing days at Fleetwood Town.
Eager to pursue a career in coaching, Johnson jumped at the chance to return to his roots and team up with Rovers' new Head of Academy Eric Kinder.
"I'm really ecstatic about the opportunity to come back," he said. "I've been away a while, but it feels like just yesterday that I was here and I can't tell you how happy and pleased I am to be back.
"I finished playing last season, so I've been doing my badges and getting some experience assisting at various clubs. I knew I wanted to coach and I was pretty sure I wasn't going to go in at senior level. I felt like I needed to do my learning and youth development was something that I was really keen to get involved in.
"I've been back in Lancashire for 18 months and I've just been desperate for an opportunity to come into Rovers and thankfully an opportunity has come up and Eric has been kind enough to offer me the role, which is brilliant.
"Eric's a Blackburn man and has really got the club's interests at heart. I know he was doing the Under-21s and I was really pleased that he got the Academy job, because it's obviously something close to my heart, because I came through here.
"It was always a legacy of Jack Walker's that he had a youth system and the club was producing their own players and I know Eric's passionate about that, so I'm excited about the opportunity to get involved.
"I've been through the doors here and learnt all my education and values here, and it's stood me in good stead for my whole career, so I'm always thankful for that. Blackburn is my club, so I'm absolutely delighted with the opportunity that Eric has given me to come back and contribute.
"I lived in the lodges and I ate my dinner in here for years, so it really is like a second home here for me."
Kinder, who was appointed Head of Academy last month, believes Johnson's character, career and history with the club made him a standout candidate for the role and is delighted to welcome him on board.
"When I got this position, there were a couple of vacancies available and I wanted to fill them with people who care passionately about Blackburn Rovers and from my very meeting with Damien, it showed that this is a club in his heart," he said.
"He might have left a long time ago and pursued his career in the Premiership, but he's had a successful career both at club level and international level, and as soon as I found out he'd moved back to the area, with the qualifications he has and the person he is, I'm absolutely delighted that my first staff appointment is Damien Johnson and I think he'll be a massive boost to everybody here.
"He's such a likeable person, very knowledgeable, he's done all his coaching qualifications and his desire to come in and start with a younger age group and learn and develop, is a joy to hear. He'll get all the support he needs.
"Although Damien is originally from Northern Ireland, he's a Blackburn Rovers fan and this club means a lot to him, so I'm absolutely delighted he's come on board with us and I hope he goes on to have a successful career in coaching."

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