Derby manager Nigel Clough paid tribute to Robbie Savage after the Welshman made his farewell appearance in the 2-1 defeat at Reading.
The Rams skipper brought the curtain down on an eventful career, but it was the Royals who were celebrating after securing fifth place and a two-legged play-off clash with Cardiff.
"Over the last two-and-a-half years he has made a big contribution," said Clough. "We have kept our heads just above water and if he hadn`t been around we might not have achieved it.
"He gets booed at 99% of the grounds he goes to so it was nice for Reading fans to applaud him. I agree with those who say that he is a better player than most people give him credit for.
"But there comes a time when the brain knows what to do but the legs won't let you. Age catches up with everybody."
Savage stripped to his vest and underpants at the end as he gave his kit to supporters. "That wasn`t a pretty sight. It reminded me of Steptoe in the bath," grinned Clough.