Rotherham United: Goalscoring prowess comes as no surprise to Semi Ajayi

Given his recent form it probably does not come as much of a surprise now that Semi Ajayi began his footballing life as a striker.

Thursday, 21st March 2019, 8:55 am

The Rotherham United man, who moved from central defence to a defensive midfield role with distinction this season, is in the goalscoring form of his life, having banged in six goals in his last five games.

His latest was a sweet first-time finish from the edge of the area against Norwich on Saturday which came three days after a match-winning double at QPR.

But that goalscoring prowess was nowhere to be seen prior to 2019 as the goals, mainly from a defensive position, were few and far between.

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That has made his rise to the top of the Millers scoring chart this season all the more intriguing.

His seven league goals has his two in front of striker Michael Smith and fellow midfielder Will Vaulks.

Perhaps his new-found love of scoring can be traced back to his early life in football, when he played as a striker in junior football.

“I started off playing football as a striker when I was a kid and I have slowly worked my way back,” Ajayi, who is with Nigeria for the international break, said. “I used to do quite a bit of finishing last season but this season I haven't done a lot at all.

“Before every game when I am in midfield I like to have two or three shots at goal just to keep me warm.”

No one has been more surprised at Ajayi's goalscoring form than boss Paul Warne, who up until recently used to call him Toblerone head, owing to some of the headed chances he missed.

“He's on fire, what is he doing?” Warne said. “That is the thing with football and all sports, when you’re confident and on a good run of form you take things on that you might not have six months ago.

“I criticised the lads a little bit after the QPR game because a couple of opportunities to take a shot on we didn't and you just don't know what might happen.”

“Semi turned and hit it sweet as a nut. I am pleased for him, he is a great human being so he is on flames at the moment.”