Exclusive: Ben Whiteman on ‘difficult’ decision to leave Doncaster Rovers

Ben Whiteman insists the decision to leave Doncaster Rovers was a difficult one but he could not turn down the opportunity to join a club that ‘ticked all the boxes.’

Thursday, 14th January 2021, 12:43 am
Updated Thursday, 14th January 2021, 8:34 am

Whiteman has joined Preston North End for an undisclosed fee, ending a three-and-a-half year stay with Rovers which saw him take the captaincy and develop into one of the best players in League One.

Though he departs with some sadness, the 24-year-old feels the move is the perfect one at an ideal stage of his career.

“I’ve loved my time at the club and I’ve made friends for life but it was just a decision I had to make at this time in my career,” he told the Free Press.

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Ben Whiteman

“It just ticked all the boxes in terms of the club, the manager, the location - it was just the perfect fit.

“I can’t thank the chairman or Gavin [Baldwin, CEO] enough, and even Copps for trying to make it work.

“I loved my time there.

“I wouldn’t say it was an easy decision at all. I had to have some difficult conversations with people I care about.

“But for the time in my career, I had to do it.

“How keen Preston were was a massive pulling factor as well and it just ticked all the boxes.”

The timing of the opportunity was key for Whiteman, and played a major role in his decision to move on now, rather than see through the season with Rovers.

“People can say what they want about going in the summer but you never know what can happen in football,” he said.

“The opportunity came, it wasn’t a walk in the park with the decision but it was one I needed to make for my career.

“I could probably have left the club in every single transfer window since Grant was here but it wasn’t right for the club and it wasn’t right for me.

“I stood strong and I knew it was going to happen, it was just a case of when.

“I can’t drag it on for too long and it was the perfect opportunity to go now.

“Some fans will have something to say about it but it wasn’t a case of kicking up the fuss. I think the club have done really well out of it and so have I.

“When I signed my new contract it was about helping the club with getting a good fee for me in the future.

“If I was a different sort of character, chasing money or anything like that, I could have gone before but I’m not that sort of person.

“I focus on my football. I sit down and really understand what clubs are interested in with me, and if it’s right for me.

“I’ve had a great friendship and relationship with Gavin Baldwin. And the chairman as well.

“If it wasn’t right for the football club, I wouldn’t have been leaving at this moment in time.

“They’ve done the best for me by accepting that I wanted to go to Preston.”

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