Richie Smallwood’s Rotherham career is over after he decided to turn down a new deal.
He spent three and a half years at the club and was a key player in the rise to the Championship and then during the three seasons there.
Here’s a look at his best moments in a Millers shirt.
Making an early impact
Smallwood was making just his third appearance of a loan spell from Middlesbrough when he gave an early example of what Millers fans could expect from him and typically it was the unseen dirty work that allowed someone else to take the glory. With a vital promotion clash against Leyton Orient at New York heading towards a draw, Smallwood won possession deep in injury time, muscling Dean Cox off the ball, before passing to Alex Revell. Revell then made the headlines with a sweet curled finish into the bottom corner to seal one of the most iconic wins of recent years, but none of it would have been possible without Smallwood.
Nerves of steel
The midfielder will go down in history as having one of the most important kicks of the ball in the club’s history and when he did it, he was Mr Cool in a cauldron of pressure and nerves. After Adam Collin had brought the Millers back into their play-off final penalty shootout against Orient at Wembley it was up to Smallwood to try and put his side in front. While everyone else around him were peeking through their fingers, the on-loan man was the calmest person in Wembley as he drilled his spot-kick down the middle to put Rotherham 4-3 up and on the brink. Collin again saved Orient’s next penalty and ecstasy ensued.
Having briefly returned to Middlesbrough, Smallwood came to Rotherham on a permanent basis early in their Championship campaign and soon picked up where he left off. His tenacity, battling and doggedness proved vital in the club’s escape from relegation – which was made nervier than it should have been following a points deduction. Smallwood had been so good over the course of the season that he was rightly named as the club’s player of the year in 2014-15.
Smallwood was again at the forefront of Rotherham’s 2015-16 battle against the drop, this time under Neil Warnock, and he provided the culmination of a stunning run of form in fine style. The Millers were in the midst of an eight-game unbeaten run that had transformed their season when they turned up at MK Dons for a massive relegation clash and a simply superb day was capped off by Smallwood, who made it 4-0 with a sweet, dipping 20-yard volley. Bitter Dons boss Karl Robinson later claimed it came off his shin, but even if it did, the Millers didn’t care- they were virtually safe.
Going out in style
A frustrating 2016-17 season for both the club and Smallwood did at least end on a positive as the midfielder, who had been farmed out on loan by Alan Stubbs, returned to produce some of his best stuff, nothing better than his display at Preston in the final game of a miserable campaign. The midfielder put on a marauding display in the centre of the park and also got on the scoresheet – again in fine style – as he sent a left-footed volley flying into the bottom corner, helping the Millers to just a second point on the road. It turned out to be his penultimate appearance in a red and white shirt and it was a fine one.