Rotherham United: Halford’s journey from mardy boy to main man

Greg Halford in action at Burnley
Greg Halford in action at Burnley
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Kevin Blackwell clearly recalls the kid with attitude and flash wheels he first encountered in 2008.

Yet, eight years on, as Blackwell plots Rotherham United’s Championship survival mission, he’s delighted to have Greg Halford back in the trenches with him.

Greg Halford returns to the Millers fold against Birmingham

Greg Halford returns to the Millers fold against Birmingham

Halford was dropped by his first Millers boss, Steve Evans, and told he had no future at AESSEAL New York Stadium under his second, Neil Redfearn.

But under new management duo Neil Warnock and Blackwell the utility man has returned to the Rotherham starting line-up and is showing the form which helped Sheffield United reach the second tier’s Play-off Final during Blackwell’s time in charge of the Blades.

“I remember him coming to Sheffield United and he turned up in his Aston Martin giving it all the large ones,” Blackwell revealed.

“He was just like that Kevin the Teenager. ‘Can you mark him?’ ‘Tuh, do I have to?’ But, in the end, he was outstanding.

Kevin Blackwell with Neil Warnock

Kevin Blackwell with Neil Warnock

“He played everywhere for us that season ... right-back, centre-half, centre-forward. I remember him playing, I think it was against Hull in the FA Cup, head bandaged, stitches, and he was outstanding.”

Halford impressed off the bench as Rotherham drew 0-0 with Birmingham City in Warnock and Blackwell’s first match at the helm and was one of the top performers when he started last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at high-flying Burnley.

The 31-year-old is likely to keep his place at Reading tonight as the third-bottom Millers seek to close a five-point gap between them and safety.

Blackwell knows full well that Halford, who was 23 when he bowled into Bramall Lane on a season-long loan from Sunderland, divides opinion.

He provoked anger among Rotherham fans when he used social media to fire a series of barbs at the club’s management, but his talent has never been in doubt.

“Greg is Marmite. You either love him or you hate him,” Blackwell said. “He has the ability to keep people at arm’s length like you would not believe.

“But there’s something inside him you can get hold of. The kid can play. Look at him last Saturday.

“He is clearly all about here,” Blackwell added, pointing to his head. “Because he’s got everything else.

“He can play a number of positions and be accomplished in those positions, not just do a fill-in.”

The utility man did so well at the Lane that Wolves paid £2 million for his services.

“His form got him his big move again,” Blackwell said. “He’d been written off in the game.

“There were times at Sheffield United I thought I was going to have to leave Morgs (skipper Chris Morgan) out for him he was playing that well.”

That’s all in the past for Blackwell as he focuses on the here and now and making sure Halford becomes a key Millers figure in the final 14 matches of the campaign.

He said: “I’ve told Greg: ‘I know what you can do, keep on doing it and I’ll back you.’

“Neil hadn’t seen a lot of him and has backed me on this one. People were quite astonished when he came back, but you’ve seen what he can do.

“He’s got to maintain that, and I’ll be at him. At the moment, he’s responding.”

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