Sam Szmodics believes his early-season tale of two halves against Rotherham United set him up to become Blackburn Rovers' star man.

On the second day of the season, Rovers drew 2-2 with the Millers at the New York Stadium. Despite dominating the ball, an early error from Szmodics saw Hakeem Odoffin put the hosts ahead.

Szmodics then missed from the penalty spot, in what turned out to be Rovers' only spot kick all season. It was a disastrous first half and they were 2-0 down three minutes into the second.

But despite his first-half issues, Szmodics rallied and scored a brace to earn Rovers a point. He pinpointed that match as a really important one which gave him momentum to continue scoring throughout the year.

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"I don't think it has sunk in, to score the amount of goals I've scored, to get international recognition, it's been a fantastic season personally," he told the No Tippy Tappy Podcast.

"I remember having an absolute stinker in the second game, Rotherham away. Jon Dahl had told me to stop moving from the 10 position into the left-back area to get the ball. He was worried I'd give it away and they'd score.

"First five minutes, I did that, gave it away and they did score. Then we got a penalty, missed it. Went in at half-time giving a goal away and missing the penalty.

"I think the lads were thinking I had to go off at half-time! I went out in the second half, scored two and we got a point.

"I think that kickstarted my season and gave me some momentum. I had two in two and me and my agent set a target of 15 goal involvements.

"To score two early on, I felt I was on my way. The goals kept coming from there. I'm not allowed in the left-back position anymore!"

On stepping up to be the talisman, he added: "This season we had no Ben Brereton Diaz, no Bradley Dack and there were shoes to fill. 

"I knew I had to step up, 28 and one of the most experienced players in the team.

"I was named vice-captain which was massive for me and I took it into my performances. I got some momentum and I never felt like I'd missed, from August, September to January or February.

"I then made a target of 20 goals so to hit 33 and four assists, I am delighted. It smashed my target."

Rovers avoided the drop on the final day, beating Leicester City to finish on 53 points, three above the bottom three. 14th is the lowest any team has finished with the Championship's golden bottom winner, since 2004.

Szmodics believes that more goals from elsewhere in the team, with the second top-scorer registering six, would've seen them far higher up the league standings.

"We know the finer details were our issues," he said.

"We know as a collective, this season was not good enough. If we had a few more goals added across the pitch, we'd have been fine.

"We made too many mistakes, it's come at a good time for us. We can reflect and rebuild because nobody wants to be down there.

"A year ago, we missed out on the play-offs on goal difference. This year, we stayed up by three points. It's the finer details and spreading goals across the pitch."

Sam Allardyce added: "With that sort of goal record, a team should be finishing in the play-offs.

"Other goals need to come from other areas but if you'd been sorted defensively, those goals would win a team so many points.

"You can easily get in the play-offs if the clean sheet record is right. I don't believe there is enough emphasis on how important is in today's game.

"All those goals can be wasted by a lack of defensive quality, a draw instead of a win, a defeat instead of a draw. The balance if you had the defensive side, 33 goals and some more from other areas."