Wayne Rooney says he wants to stay and help "bring the happy days back" to Derby County after the Rams were relegated from the Championship to League One.
Defeat against Queens Park Rangers and a draw for Reading against Swansea means that the Pride Park outfit will drop to the third tier of English football next season, after failing to outrun a 21-point deduction for falling into administration.
Former England great Rooney has led the club in a valiant battle throughout the campaign to escape a fate many felt they would succumb to far earlier - but even now the news is confirmed, the ex-player-coach says he hopes to remain onboard to help them rebuild.
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What has Rooney said?
"We've been relegated, but I've never seen a team get relegated and [get] the reaction of the fans," Rooney told Sky Sports after the final whistle. "I thought it was incredible, the support the fans gave the lads all season. Of course, [I'm] disappointed, sad, upset - but [I'm] proud."
"In some ways, we can draw a line under what's happened and really start the rebirth of this club and try to move forward.
"I want to rebuild the club. You see what it means to the fans every week, this is a special club, a big club and we're all proud to be here. I want to be the one to bring the happy days back."
Rooney admits takeover fears
Derby look poised to welcome new owners as they prepare for life in the third tier, but the prolonged process and uncertainty means that the club are effectively in limbo - and Rooney admits that he fears what will happen if a deal falls through.
"We need the takeover to happen, that has to happen quick," he added. "If the takeover doesn't happen, I fear for where the club will end up. The future is in doubt if that doesn't happen, my future is in doubt if that doesn't happen.
"I feel for the players more because we've picked up 52 points and we'd be safe now in normal circumstances. We've paid the price for what the previous owner has left behind.
"It's no one's fault. Not mine, not the staff, not the players, just the previous owner. We're paying the price and I'm sure it's a sad day for him as well because I know Mel [Morris] is a Derby fan. I'm sure he'll be very disappointed."