MANAGER Paul Warne described Michael Ihiekwe as "a future captain" as the centre-half today signed a new contract with Rotherham United.
The 26-year-old brought six weeks of negotiations to a close by accepting a deal which ties him to the Millers until 2022.
Warne, who takes his side to League One leaders Ipswich Town tomorrow night, said: "It's really good news for us. He's been virtually faultless this season. He's an unbelievable athlete.
"He's now got a son, which changes people. He's a lot more responsible. I think he is a future captain of this team."
Ihiekwe has played in every league match since the start of the campaign and his boss described him as "the stand-out player so far this season".
The player's previous contract had been due to expire in the summer and he and the club had been in talks since early September about extending his stay at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Rotherham had been prepared to shelve discussions until later in the season if a deal hadn't been struck this week.
Warne, who also saw left-back Joe Mattock finalise a fresh deal last week, added: "I have been keen to get Icky's new contract nailed down as early as possible.
"It's a credit to the club that we've managed to persuade him to stay. I'd like to thank my chairman for supporting me on it.
"The players hold all the cards. We want the players more than they want us really because there are other clubs that would take them. I'm really pleased."
Ihiekwe, who has moved from his Liverpool roots to Chesterfield and gets married next year, said: "I'm delighted it's all been sorted. I've said all along that I wanted to stay.
"I love it here. The staff and the group are brilliant and I feel I am improving as a player. I hope that I can help the club return to the Championship."