“HE’S the happiest kid in the world.”
Paul Warne’s subject is Rarmani Edmonds-Green who’s just scored his first goal for Rotherham United.
But the manager isn’t referring to the young loanee’s reaction to the stunning 22-yard strike that has sealed a 2-0 League One win at Cheltenham Town last Saturday.
He’s talking about the 22-year-old centre-half generally.
As if to prove his boss’s point, Edmonds-Green is next out to be interviewed at the rain-gripped Jonny-Rocks Stadium, the beam on his face cutting through an autumn afternoon greyer than the kit the Millers have been wearing.
“Yeah, I’m always smiling,” he smiles.
The player nicknamed ‘Reg’ (think of his initials) is making a big impression after fighting his way into the starting 11 on the right of a three-man backline midway through September.
In the time since, Rotherham have remained undefeated, climbed to fourth in the table and topped the division for the number of shut-outs.
“Yeah, another clean sheet,” says the boy from South London. “I’m buzzing with that. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing. You have to prove yourself in every game. That’s five unbeaten now. I have to keep impressing the manager if I want to stay in the side.”
It hasn’t always been so, and Edmonds-Green has had to show some real character to get his Millers career up and running following his summer switch from parent club Huddersfield Town.
His first start, back in August at Morecambe, saw him replaced at half-time by the more grizzled Richard Wood as Rotherham sought to curb the threat of targetman Cole Stockton.
“I’m not someone who’s going to get down about it,” he says. “I understand it was to help the team.
“It did help as well because we went on to score and win the game 1-0. I was just like: ‘Come on, boys, we can get the result here.’
“Getting taken off was a massive learning curve for me. You just have to come back stronger. I kept on working hard in training and didn’t let my head drop.”
Warne, assistant manager Richie Barker and coach Matt Hamshaw have all individually praised the way he handled himself that night in Lancashire.
Of course, his goal crops up. You don’t open your account in such stunning style without it being mentioned.
Michael Smith laid off the ball to him and a pinpoint sweep of his right foot sent it speeding low into the bottom corner.
“I don’t know what I was doing that far up the pitch, to be fair,” he grins. “Smudge got hold of the ball and I was calling out to him: ‘Set it, set it.’ It came to me and I just whacked it.
“I’m happy to get the goal and happy to get the points. As soon as I struck it I thought it might be going in. It was a good strike.”
Rotherham fans have sung his name but he’s been so focused on the match that he hasn’t noticed.
“Really?” he says, as pleased as he is surprised. “I need to pay more attention!”
We’ve taken refuge in the stand, the ‘drip, drip, drip,’ of the rain slipping off the roof and splashing on to the stone floor a constant echo in the background.
It’s a dismal afternoon yet a great Millers day.
When the questions about the match are over, Edmonds-Green hangs around, chatting about his upbringing, thanking the gaggle of reporters for their interest, wishing everyone a safe journey back.
He was raised in Peckham but has been in the north since he was 17 and lives in Huddersfield.
“I love it up here,” he says. “I don’t think I could ever go back to living in London. People down there don’t speak to each other. It’s much friendlier up here.
“I get up in the morning, go outside and somebody always says: ‘Hello.’ What a great way to start your day.”
There’s one last flash of lovely, white-toothed warmth and off he disappears into the Jonny-Rocks mist.
The happiest kid in the world.