FA Cup: If Roy Keane is so smart, why did he get rid of Jordan Rhodes?

The Irishman's judgement is not always to be trusted as he once let one of Britain's most natural goalscorers slip through his fingers

All those people questioning Roy Keane's critical faculties after his defence of Nani's red card against Real Madrid last week should tune into today's televised FA Cup quarter-final between Millwall and Blackburn Rovers for even stronger evidence that the Irishman's judgement is not always to be trusted.

After all, if a controversial comment as a TV pundit is one thing, letting one of the most natural goalscorers in British football slip through your fingers as a manager is another. That is what happened in July 2009 when, three months into his reign at Ipswich Town, Keane allowed Jordan Rhodes to leave Portman Road for Huddersfield Town for £400,000.

Rhodes, a one-time Ipswich trainee, received no explanation for Keane's decision but he has done everything in his power since to prove him wrong, scoring 87 goals in 148 games in three seasons at Huddersfield and now, after last summer's club-record £8 million switch to Blackburn, adding another 21 in 36 outings.

"Roy Keane didn't say anything to me when he released me or give me any reasons [but] in hindsight, it's absolutely done me a favour," says Rhodes. "Going to Huddersfield Town at the time I did under Lee Clark and the chairman, Dean Hoyle, was the best thing that could have ever happened to me because it really did teach me [about] men's football. Moving home, playing in the Football League week in, week out, it really toughens you up and makes you realise what it means to be a professional footballer."

Rhodes's attitude was "right, I'll show you, I'll get myself better, I'll improve" – something he has done to such an extent that Arsène Wenger was singing his praises before Blackburn's surprise fifth-round win at Arsenal. His response to Wenger's comments is entirely in keeping with his unassuming, unspoilt personality: "I was chuffed to bits. I was really flattered to have someone of his calibre say such nice things about me. I didn't even think he'd know who I was."

Wenger cited Rhodes, who has three goals in six Scotland appearances, as an example of how homegrown talent gets "forgotten" amid the foreign imports. Yet the player himself takes heart "from the likes of Grant Holt and Rickie Lambert, who have made the step up to the Premier League", adding: "There is no better example than [Reading's] Adam Le Fondre, who [was] in League Two with Rotherham 18 months ago."

Rhodes looks certain to step up himself soon, given his effortless adjustment to the Championship. "It might be difficult for it to be next year, but, hopefully, we can be there in 18 months' time," he says of the possibility of Premier League football with Blackburn, who began this weekend 13th in the second tier.

Michael Appleton, Blackburn's manager, notes that Rhodes's value is rising fast: "We paid a hell of a lot of money for him in the summer, so I'd imagine it would take one hell of a bid to prise him away from us. I can't speak highly enough of him. He loves playing football and he never misses a day's training.

"I wish they were all like that," Appleton adds of a teetotal 23-year-old who sounds like a manager's dream. It is tempting to wonder what Keane made of his lack of devilment – "Nastiness is not in my character, you don't seem to find it on the field with me either," Rhodes admits – but what he has instead is "drive and determination". And amid the off-field turbulence at Ewood Park, with three different managers, Rhodes's focus has not wavered.

He was taken as a two-month-old baby to see his dad play for Oldham in the 1990 League Cup final, and Wembley now beckons the family in the FA Cup if Blackburn can get past Millwall today.

Yet Rhodes, remembering a League One play-off semi-final loss with Huddersfield at the New Den, knows it will not be easy. "It was a very intimidating place, and I can imagine on Sunday it will be very much the same." Don't misjudge his laid-back manner, though – Rhodes is up for the fight.

Millwall v Blackburn is on ESPN today, kick-off 2pm

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen