DANNY Cowley will ‘forever be indebted to non-league football’ after making the leap into the Football League.

The 38-year-old led Lincoln City back into the Football League last season, and will now manage in League Two for the first time.

Cowley has come a long way in the last 10 years, while he managed Concord Rangers in the Essex Senior League a decade ago.

And he has heaped praise on Concord Rangers, who survived a brush with relegation last season to maintain their National League South status.

“I still speak to everyone at Concord regularly,” he said.

“It is still the first result I look out for. Whether it be a Saturday or a Tuesday, after we have played I always look to see how they got on.

“Concord is a great club. We had three promotions in a short space of time in a great moment and to then maintain that status is probably a bigger achievement.

“For Concord to continue doing that is testament to all the hard work the people there are putting in.

“For that club to continue to grow and remain at that level is wonderful. Knowing all the people there means you will always want more for them but you must be realistic, considering the size of the club.

“I will forever be indebted to non-league football. I wouldn’t be in this position without it.

“I hope we can progress in the Football League of course, but we (brother and assistant manager Nicky) will never forget our roots.”

The former FitzWimarc School Head of PE also praised the work done by some of his former pupils, having presided over a hugely successful sporting period in the school’s history.

Josh Prentice, 20, recently led the Essex Rockets Under-12 basketball team into a national final, a first for a Southend boys team.

He praised the Cowley brothers for their role in shaping him, and Danny has now returned the favour.

“Josh is a great boy and was in my form at the school,” he said. “He can do whatever he wants to do. He is very determined and focused and these guys are determined to achieve. It is a sport he loves and I hope he goes far in it.

“My wife (Kate) is still a teacher there and one of the best moments from last season was when all the kids came up for the Tranmere Rovers game and Nicky and I didn’t know anything about it.

“They surprised us and I remember seeing them all celebrating one of our goals after we scored.

“I miss them all dearly.”