Norwich City target Jordan Rhodes has always had star quality
- Credit: PA
Jordan Rhodes was born to score goals as deputy sports editor MARK ARMSTRONG found out at Portman Road.
Speaking to a room full of 16 and 17-year-old lads is not my idea of a fun afternoon.
When you get a group of same sex individuals, all of similar age, then silliness is often the result.
But when I got the chance to speak to Ipswich Town's youth team it was a price worth paying.
Why? Because I was going to get a one-on-one interview with Jordan Rhodes. That was the pay-off agreed with the Ipswich press team. If I gave the Blues youngsters a talk on how to (mis)handle the media then I could have a chat with a player of my choice. Rhodes was the obvious option given how he was ripping it up at youth team level and the rumours that then Ipswich boss Jim Magilton was close to promoting him to the first team.
So I put up with the sniggering about my hair (yes, I'm a redhead) so I could have an exclusive chat with Ipswich's next big thing.
I'd never met Rhodes before but had spoken to his father, Andy, a larger than life goalkeeper coach. So I was expecting a chip off the old block but couldn't have been more wrong. At 17, Rhodes proved mature beyond his years and was polite as you would hope your son to be.
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There was no childish giggling with his mates, who were still in the room. He was as eager to talk to me about what I do (you may have guessed by now I used to report on Ipswich) as he was talking about himself.
Most of the players in that room didn't make it, certainly not to the level Rhodes is now playing at.
But even from my short chat with him you could tell he had the drive to make it whilst others were more concerned about looking cool in front of their team-mates.
He had a determined look that his team-mates lacked. The kind of look that said if the ball is bobbling around in the six-yard box he would do anything to get there first.
His departure for Huddersfield for just £350k under Roy Keane was the worst decision the Irishman made during his time at Portman Road although there were a few others…buying Lee Martin for £1.5m being one of them.
Every goal he has scored for Huddersfield, Blackburn and Middlesbrough since then brings a collective wince from Ipswich fans wondering what might have been if he had stayed in Suffolk.
After 172 goals in 295 games you can't doubt his pedigree in the Championship and if he helped fire Norwich back to the Premier League it would provide yet another reason for City fans to lord it over their bitter rivals.