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It's time to bid a sad farewell to Super Kev... but he'll always have a place in Bluebirds' hearts; During his nine years at Cardiff, Kevin McNaughton became a firm favourite with the City faithful, but now it's time to say goodbye. TERRY PHILLIPS pays his personal tribute to Bluebirds'silver-haired Scot who was told he would not get a new deal yesterday.

Byline: TERRY PHILLIPS

BLUEBIRDS fans have sung his name for nine years, and while Kevin McNaughton may be leaving the club he will not be forgotten.

The Scottish defender was loved by the Cardiff City faithful and a good few of them may well be humming the 'Super Kev McNaughton' theme tune in their heads as they contemplate his final departure after being shown the door by Russell Slade.

Of course, McNaughton has been on loan at Bolton this season and so has subsequently been out of sight. It will take longer than one season for him to disappear from the minds of those supporters from South Wales who have watched him for nigh on a decade.

He won a place in the hearts of City fans from the start.

Fans of all clubs value intensity and commitment from players, but those who follow Cardiff have always loved a scrapper, a terrier, a fighter. McNaughton was all those, in fact he fell into that priceless bracket of being a player who almost never had a poor game.

Win, lose or draw, McNaughton was so often the player talked about after games as having stood out for all the right reasons. It wasn't difficult to spot him either.

Like Graham Kavanagh before him, McNaughton sported unusually grey hair for a young man, earning the nickname Gramps among some of his team-mates.

The irony was that he was among the fittest players Cardiff City have employed in modern times.

McNaughton's energy and industry up and down the right or left flank so often gave City an outlet and his pace so often got them out of stick situations or provided an insurance policy when the opposition boasted a striker with some serious gas.

It was perhaps a bit of an injustice that when the Bluebirds eventually reached the top flight, McNaughton's contribution was fleeting.

Here was a fellow who had always said his dream was to play Premier League football for Cardiff City.

Here was a fellow who did so much over so many years to make that happen.

But by the time it did, he was in the twilight of his time at the club and not really in a position to be at the fulcrum of on-pitch operations as he so often had been in the past.

And yet he did get his moment in the sun during City's solitary season in the big time, appearing in some of the most glamorous matches of the campaign. McNaughton deserved that, and you could see what it meant to him at the time.

I recall the joy on his face when Cardiff made it to football's Promised Land. It was a picture and it showed his passion and love for the club.

I was with McNaughton on the open top bus tour around the city when promotion and the Championship title had been secured. He adored every moment of what was an unforgettable time.

Former manager Malky Mackay once described McNaughton as 'one of Cardiff's heroes.'.

It was an apt way to sum him up because McNaughton wasn't just a terrific player, he was down to earth, never aloof, the sort of character who would always stop for a chat with supporters.

He was also, inevitably it seemed at times, the go-to player after a poor team performance for the media.

No matter how bad it had been for Cardiff, no matter how frustrating, he would always be willing to face the questions from journalists when others didn't fancy it.

Only a week or so ago I sent a text to McNaughton asking if he was able to chat and he replied quickly, saying: "No worries. I'm free now."

While it was fitting McNaughton did play in the Premier League for the club he loved, it was also fitting that his final appearance turned out to be a 1-0 win at Southampton that threatened, albeit briefly, to be a turning point in the quest for survival under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

But we doff our caps to McNaughton because of his longevity too, which is an increasingly rare commodity in the modern game.

His nine years might have been even longer as well, with Lennie Lawrence having made inquiries about McNaughton three years before he made the move from Aberdeen in 2006.

Aberdeen, though, wanted a PS1m fee and Cardiff had to bide their time, eventually signing the versatile defender when he was out of contract.

Good business that, but with hindsight McNaughton would have been worth the money.

McNaughton will play on, there is no doubt about that - and so he should. Where? We'll have to wait and see but whichever club gets his services will be onto a winner.

He leaves with the best wishes of everyone connected to Cardiff City Football Club - and fully deserving of the nickname bestowed on him by its fans, one that just about sums him up.

New deal for Barnum-Bobb JAZZI Barnum-Bobb, the 19-year-old who played in two League Cup ties for Cardiff City this season, has signed a contract for 2015-16.

He joins Tyler Roche, David Tutonda and Curtis Watkins in having an additional year option implemented, while Macauley Southam has been offered a contact extension. Goalkeeper Ben Wilson has committed until 2017.

Danny Johnson, Jaye Bowen, Anthony Bell, Gethyn Hill, Joe Massaro, Kane Owen, Ben Watkins, Bradley Wickham, Bradley Williams and Josh Yorwerth have all been released.

Professional deals have been offered to some under-18 squad players, Robbie Patten, Abdi Noor, Ashley Baker, Dylan Rees, Tom Burridge, Eli Phipps and Jamie Veale, who step up to the under-21 development squad.

CAPTION(S):

From heartbreak after the 2010 Championship play-off final against Blackpool to the amazing 2008 FA Cup run, Kevin McNaughton wore his heart on his sleeve for City. He played in the Premier League campaign

and was a pivotal figure as the Bluebirds pushed for promotion during Malky Mackay's reign
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 6, 2015
Words:988
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