JORDAN Rhodes says his second hat-trick for Blackburn Rovers and the 11th of his prolific career was extra special.
The 24-year-old still counts the four goals he scored for Huddersfield Town in a 4-4 draw at his father’s club Sheffield Wednesday in December 2011 as his most memorable moment. But the lethal striker admits his superbly taken treble in Saturday’s 4-2 success at Huddersfield will run it close given it came against his former club – and given he was captaining Rovers in the absence of injured skipper Grant Hanley.
“It was nice to have the captaincy coming back to my old club and what better way than to make it more special than to score three goals and get the win,” said Rhodes, who netted 87 goals in 148 appearances for the Terriers before his club record £8m move to Rovers in August 2012.
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“I had three fantastic years here and just before the game I was visualising the good times I had here and the goals I scored at both ends – and I tried to go out there with that positive mentality of trying to replicate that.
“It felt fantastic.”
That positive mental attitude got Rhodes through the longest barren run of his Rovers career.
Before he struck in last Sunday’s East Lancashire derby he had gone nine games without finding the net.
But his hat-trick at the Terriers on Saturday took his tally for the season up to 20 – only Leeds United’s Ross McCormack has scored more in the Championship – and his overall tally for Rovers up to an incredible 48 in 85 appearances.
“Football is a funny game,” said Rhodes, who is aware he is closing in on a half-century of goals at Ewood Park.
“Why feel any different when you haven’t scored in a while? I’ll go home tonight feeling as if I’ve not scored in nine and even when I hadn’t scored in nine I’d go home feeling as if I had scored a hat-trick.
“Things don’t change for me, I just try to remain positive and stay nice on and off the pitch.”
Nine of the 11 hat-tricks that Rhodes – the first Rovers player to fire 20 league goals in successive seasons in the second tier of English football since Tommy Briggs in 1957 – has netted have come in senior club football.
But he had difficultly wrestling his latest match ball – all of which he keeps at his parents’ house – from the fourth official.
Rhodes, who has now scored five goals in four matches for Rovers against Huddersfield, said: “He didn’t seem to be giving it to me but I was like, ‘that’s mine, I’ve earned it, so give it here’.”
Rhodes is now just five goals away from 150 in his senior club career after the hat-trick moved him up to 145 in 266 appearances.
And Rovers boss Gary Bowyer said: “It was an outstanding display of finishing and he has been doing it for a number of years now.”