OLVESTON-BASED professional footballer Gary Warren will swap playing in front of 400 fans at Hayes and Yeading for 60,000 at Celtic Park next season.

The 27-year-old defender has agreed to join Scottish Premier League side Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who are managed by former England captain Terry Butcher, after leaving Blue Square Premier side Newport County at the end of his contract.

Centre-back Butcher won 77 caps for England, wearing the armband as they reached semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, and Newport boss Justin Edinburgh sees a lot of similarities between him and Warren.

“He’s signed for the ex-England captain who, for my money, played in exactly the same manner Gary does,” said Edinburgh.

“Terry Butcher was a big, brave centre-back and a real leader. What better manager for Gary to play under?

“You look at the move really and think that it was written in the stars. They are like two peas in a pod.

“Gary will play at Celtic in front of 60,000 people next season and how many players can say they’ve done that?”

The move completes a whirlwind 12 months for Warren, who captained Great Britain to a silver medal at the World University Games in China before leading Newport to the FA Trophy final at Wembley and helping them stave off relegation in his first season since turning professional.

Warren had been linked with a move to League Two outfit Cheltenham Town, who had a £10,000 bid for him turned down last summer, but Edinburgh confirmed the rumours that Inverness have won the race for his signature are true.

“Gary Warren leaves the club with our best wishes and we want him to be a massive success up there, but personally speaking I’m disappointed,” he said.

“I feel that Gary, even though he’s 27-years old, in football terms he’s more like 21 or 22.

“I thought another year with us would be the best thing for his career, he’s only been a professional for one year.”

Warren has risen up through the non-league ranks in recent years, starting his career at Mangotsfield United in the Southern League before helping Team Bath win promotion to Conference South and then Newport into the Blue Square Premier.

County director of football Tim Harris said: “While we are disappointed for ourselves, we are over the moon for Gary.

“This is a huge move for him, to play in the top tier of Scottish football, and we feel proud of him after he’s been such a colossal player for us over the years.”