Monday, February 8th, 2016
Lee Johnson says his return to Ashton Gate is “like coming home” after he was appointed as Bristol City’s new head coach on a three-and-a-half-year deal.
The 34-year-old spent six seasons on the club’s books as a player between 2006 and 2012, racking up 199 appearances.
In his time away, the former midfielder became the youngest boss in the Football League, taking the reins at Oldham Athletic at the age of 31, and now joins City from Barnsley, who he left on a six-match winning run and with a Wembley final to look forward to.
But now Johnson is back at the place he calls “my club”, insisting the decision to swap a League One play-off push for a Championship survival fight was an easy one.
“On a level of being at a club like Barnsley who brought me in and are going through a really good spell and just got to the JPT final, of course you become very fond of everybody at the club,” the new boss told Bristol City Player HD in an exclusive first interview.
“But Bristol City is my club and as soon as I found out there was genuine interest, it was a no-brainer for me.
“It’s a no-brainer because I know the plans of the people and it’s a fantastic opportunity for me – one I’m very, very grateful for.
“I’ve got so many friends and family here. I played here for six years and I support the club.
“Between Bristol City and Yeovil, I’ve spent ten years of my life in the South West.
“You feel like you’re coming home – it’s the people, the town, the stadium and the excitement of everything that’s happening.”
Johnson revealed he has always maintained an interest in events at Ashton Gate from afar.
“I’m a real football person – I love my football and I’ve always kept my eye on the club,” he added.
“They did very, very well last season in League One and in the Championship they’ve settled okay. Obviously it wasn’t a great start but it’s picked up recently, and there’s just so much potential.
“To come back when it’s in my heart and in my blood is just a fantastic personal achievement.”