MICHAEL Smith has pledged to give his all to Rotherham United’s promotion push after the deadline-day move the Millers were dreading failed to materialise.
The striker attracted Championship interest all through the transfer window but remained at AESSEAL New York Stadium when no concrete offers came in before the close of business at 11pm on August 31.
Smith, who is in the final year of his contract, credits the Millers with turning round his career since they took him from Bury in January 2018 and says he owes them a debt of gratitude.
“I’m happy to stay, of course I am,” he said. “I’m settled here. I know the club inside out now. I know how the manager and his staff work. I’m very, very comfortable outside of football as well as with family life.
“I can’t speak highly enough of what Rotherham have done for me in the past three and a half years. I didn’t know where my career was going at the time when I signed.
“Rotherham have got my full focus and attention and I’ll give 100 per cent in every game.”
The Geordie has already helped the Millers to two League One promotions and is now targeting a third under manager Paul Warne.
Rotherham return to action after the international break with a home match against Fleetwood Town on Saturday and are only a point away from a play-off spot after winning three of their opening five games.
“I’ve loved my time here and to do what I’ve been able to do with the club has been amazing,” Smith said. “I can’t speak highly enough of the staff and the club itself.
“Without a doubt, I’ve played my best football for Rotherham. The only other club where I’ve done relatively well is Swindon Town. We managed to get to the League One Play-off Final. With Rotherham I’ve gone one better and experienced the Championship with them.
“I don’t think we’ve got anything to fear in this league. The club have done really well with their recruitment. They’ve added to a squad that nearly stayed in the Championship last year, although obviously we’ve lost Crooksy (Matt Crooks to Middlesbrough).
“I think we’ve got enough to definitely be up there challenging for the automatic places.”
As well as hanging on to their prize asset, the Millers also brought in hot-shot Will Grigg, a renowned scorer at third-tier level, to add to their attacking options.
“He’s a fox in the box. Give him half a sniff and he’ll put the ball away,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to getting out on the pitch and training with him.
“I can learn from him. He’s got a bagful of experience and has played internationally with Northern Ireland as well. Just watching how he works every day will be interesting.”
Smith has hit three goals already as he chases the 25 he needs to persuade assistant boss Richie Barker to hand over his framed, signed jersey of the 29-year-old’s boyhood hero, Alan Shearer.
“I thought it was 20 but Richie’s now saying it was 20 in the Championship and I have to get 25 in League One,” the frontman said.
“I’ve got two targets this season: help get Rotherham promoted and hopefully get that signed Shearer shirt.”