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

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice