‘DON’T call it retirement’ says Dons assistant manager John Gorman who will hang up his boots at the end of this season.
The popular 62-year-old may be giving up the day-to-day routine as Karl Robinson’s right-hand man, but he isn’t planning on slowing down away from the football pitch.
“I’m going to spend some time with my family, seeing my children, travel out to Thailand to see my son, and working on my art again,” he said.
“It’s time I had a break now. I’ve got a few injuries and troubles that have been hampering me out on the training pitch and it’s affecting what I do.
“I told both Karl and the chairman several months ago that I was going to go at the end of the season. I didn’t want to drop it on them just before the play-offs and leave them in the mire.
“But who knows what will happen in the future. If I feel like I miss football, I’ll maybe look into getting something like a scouting role somewhere.”
Regarded as being one of football’s good guys, Gorman has made friends up and down the country during his nearly 50 year career in the game.
He is still remembered as a hero at Brunton Park for his 250 plus appearances for Carlisle United during the 1970s and was induced into their ‘Team of the Century’ on their recent trip to stadium:mk. But it’s not just the fans that hold him in high regard.
“There aren’t many teams that we play now that haven’t got two or three players I used to coach,” he said. “They always seem to come over and say ‘hello’ and often ‘thank you’ as well because I either gave them their first break or helped them along the way.
“It’s always a pleasure to bump into these players, and to know that I’ve helped them – some of them even still call me gaffer!
“Fans and players get behind people they see who are enthusiastic about what they do, so maybe that’s why people like me, but not everyone sees me that way!”
During his career, Gorman has travelled all over the world for football. Beginning his playing career at Celtic, he moved south of the border to Carlisle before landing a move to Tottenham in 1976.
But his three-years at White Hart Lane were dogged with injury, though he did regularly contribute cartoons for the matchday programme as his artistic talent kept him occupied on the sidelines.
He left England in 1979 to pursue a career in America with Tamba Bay Rowdies in the North American Soccer League before switching to the indoor game until 1984.
He returned to the game in the early 90s as a coach at Gillingham and Leyton Orient before he moved alongside former Spurs team-mate Glenn Hoddle, who had taken over as manager at Swindon Town.
And when Hoddle left for Chelsea, Gorman took over at the County Ground as they were promoted into the Premier League in 1993.
Swindon were relegated and Gorman was sacked in November 1994, but he made a shock return to football when he was appointed alongside Hoddle again, this time as he took over the England manager’s job, where he was part of the 1998 World Cup squad.
After Hoddle’s dismissal, Gorman worked at Reading and Ipswich before linking up with his friend again at Southampton and Tottenham.
He then branched out on his own again, taking charge of Gillingham, Wycombe and Northampton, and was caretaker manager at Southampton before teaming up with Jim Magilton who had taken over at Ipswich.
The pair then moved to Queens Park Rangers before the Northern Irish man left, with Gorman loyally following his friend out the door.
But it was only by chance that he arrived at stadium:mk, having never actually met Karl Robinson before.
“The chairman told Karl he needed someone with experience if he was to take over as manager of the club,” Gorman said.
“So Karl called a few agents, and I ended up getting the call to come down and see what I thought – oddly enough it was to watch the game against Walsall at the end of the season.
“We didn’t know each other, but I liked the way Karl wanted to play, and the way he wanted to work, so I said yes to the job.”
In his two years at the club, Gorman and Robinson have notched up more than 100 games together – making them the longest serving managerial duo the club has ever had, and have achieved back-to-back play-off campaigns.
And while he may not see the club in the Championship next season, he doesn’t want to leave Dons on a sour note, and dreams of going out on the Wembley pitch to celebrate promotion.
He said: “That’s the dream, of course. This team is good enough to go up and I’d love to see them in the Championship where they belong.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at MK Dons. It’s a great club, and it’s going places. We’ve got a tremendous squad, some excellent footballers and a great manager.”
His pride comes from seeing the improvement in players, be it a youngster in the youth squads to established members of the first team.
Gorman has played a huge part in developing Jabo Ibehre and Daniel Powell, among many others at stadium:mk, and countless others at his many clubs. And it’s that legacy he’d like to be remembered for.
“It’s honour to know that people hold you in high regard. After it was announced that I was leaving, I got a text message from Shaun Williams saying thank you for all the help I’d given him during his time here.
“I’ve gained some life-long friends along the way but I know the club is in good hands with Karl in charge. He can stand on his own two feet now and can take this club where it needs to be.”
Gorman will be given a roaring reception this Saturday as fans pay tribute to him in his penultimate home game, and everyone involved with the club will be keen to see his tenure out in style with victory in the play-off final at Wembley later this month.