Rotherham United new boy Leon Best knew his talent hadn’t gone anywhere, but he’d lost something from his armoury ... confidence.
Without a club since leaving Blackburn Rovers in the summer, the 29-year-old striker was invited to the Millers’ Roundwood training complex 11 days ago for a trial.
Manager Neil Redfearn liked what he saw, Best’s faith in himself flourished again and the outcome is that Rotherham now have a 29-year-old striker who has scored goals in the Premier League on their books until the end of the season.
“As soon as I came here, I was welcomed with open arms,” said Best, who could make his debut in Saturday’s Championship clash at Leeds United, now managed by former Millers boss Steve Evans.
“It’s hard when you’ve not been playing for a while and you’ve been in and out. It’s about having somebody to believe in you and know that when you do get fit you can show them why they’ve given you that chance.
“The manager gave me that belief and he helped me in my training.
“You don’t lose your talent. In this game you lose your confidence and if you get someone behind you to give you that, it all comes back.”
Best hit 10 goals in 31 starts for top-flight Newcastle United between 2010 and 2012 and is the established campaigner Redfearn was seeking to take the load of young centre-forward Jonson Clarke-Harris.
“Jonson pushes and shoves, gets his body in the way and does a difficult job, but we are asking him to do an experienced man’s job,” the manager said. “The lads is 21 and is learning the job, but at the moment we are asking him to be the main man and it’s too big an ask for him.”
Best, who moved to Ewood Park from Newcastle in a £3 million deal in July 2012, looked good for the Millers in behind-closed-doors action during the international break and, having earned his deal, will now try to help lift the club off the foot of the table.
The Republic of Ireland international, on loan at Derby County and Brighton in the second tier last season, had kept himself in shape and has improved his sharpness since his first day of training a week last Monday.
“It was a matter of getting my head down and showing what I could do,” he said. “I always work hard off the pitch to keep my fitness up and I eat right and look after myself, so hopefully now it will all pay off on the pitch and I can get back to scoring goals.
“I’m raring to go. It’s felt like I’ve been out for years. I’ve scored goals at every level, so it’s not a matter of not being able to do it.”
Rotherham’s AESSEAL New York Stadium home is the venue for Friday night’s England Under-17s v Germany U-17s showdown and almost 7,000 tickets have been snapped up.