Star turn ... how Rotherham United new boy Cameron Humphreys got the better of Cristiano Ronaldo

Star turn ... how Rotherham United new boy Cameron Humphreys got the better of Cristiano Ronaldo

By Paul Davis | 02/08/2022

Star turn ... how Rotherham United new boy Cameron Humphreys got the better of Cristiano Ronaldo
Cameron Humphreys becomes a Miller in Croatia

“I’M a ball-playing centre-back,” he says.

But Cameron Humphreys isn’t really doing himself justice.

He fails to mention the Cruyff turn he once performed on Cristiano Ronaldo.

We’re talking pitchside at the Eco-power Stadium following Rotherham United’s 2-2 friendly draw against Doncaster Rovers last week.

The Millers new boy’s comfort in possession has been obvious but all he adds to his first comment is: “I’m fast and like to be on the ball.”

It takes a bit of subsequent research to discover that when he was a 16-year-old making his debut for Manchester City back in 2015 he bamboozled arguably the greatest player of the modern era.

His show of skill came in front of a 100,000 crowd at Australia’s Melbourne Cricket Ground when City faced Real Madrid in the pre-season International Champions Cup.

It was a pretty memorable day for the teenager, despite a 4-1 defeat, as he also left the stadium with Gareth Bale’s shirt.

Seven years on, the defender is gearing up for Saturday’s opening day in the Championship after ending a three-season, 50-plus-game spell in the Belgian top division with Zolte Waregem to move to AESSEAL New York Stadium.

“I’m slowly getting into it, learning how we play and what the manager wants,” he says. “Everybody is nice, everybody has been welcoming, so I’m enjoyed my time here.

“The training has been hard. But it’s pre-season, it’s always going to be tough. I’ve liked it. So far so good.”

As much as he’s been made to push himself to the limit in the infamous Roundwood sessions, his most daunting test has come off the field. 

Facing Gareth Bale

After signing a three-year deal, he flew out to Croatia earlier this month to join the Rotherham week-long boot camp and found himself performing his initiation song in front of his new teammates.

“Nervous? Yeah, I was really nervous!” he says with a deep, throaty chuckle. “I sang Amy Winehouse — Valerie.

“It was decent, to be fair. My voice is not bad. The lads were clapping and laughing along which made it easier.”

Humphreys made two FA Cup appearances for City, where his coach in the under-21 ranks was World Cup winner Patrick Vieira, but found his route to regular first-team football blocked by the likes of Vincent Kompany, Aymeric Laporte and John Stones and opted to head to Belgium.

The England youth international’s form there didn’t go unnoticed by Millers head of recruitment Rob Scott.

“I think the club just watched a few of my games and liked what they saw,” the player says. “I spoke to the manager. He warned me it would be hard work here but I was up for that.

“Was I looking to get back to England? I was just looking for the next step in my career really. I’m here and I’m happy to be here.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of Championship football. We’ll do all we can and try to stay up.”

He seems a decent bloke: pretty chilled but warming up and flashing a big smile as the interview progresses. He’s looking for a place to live in Sheffield and is fitting in quickly in his new surroundings.

“Croatia was good,” he says. “We had team bonding so it was good to get to know everybody straightaway.

“I was a bit thrown in at the deep end but it makes you get to know everyone better.”

He thinks again of his public rendition of Valerie.

“You just have to get it done. don’t you?” he winces. “It’s my worst nightmare. I hate doing stuff like that. I wouldn’t say I’m a big Amy Winehouse fan but it’s a song everyone knows.”

‘Stop making a fool out of me.’

Hey, even Ronaldo could join in.

 

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CAMERON Humphreys trained regularly with the first team under head coach Pep Guardiola when he was on the books of Manchester City.

“His training methods were the best — it was about having the ball at your feet at all times and it was so competitive,” the centre-back said in an interview in 2020, a year after his move to Belgium.

“I definitely became technically better with the ball.

“The level of players I was training alongside helped with that as well. David Silva, for example, never put a foot wrong and every touch was perfect. It was impossible to get the ball off him.”

Humphreys, then aged 20, rejected a new deal because he wanted to play senior football.

“I should have spoken to Guardiola about my prospect of first-team chances,” he said.

“I was too shy to say anything. Knowing what I do now, I would definitely have gone into his office to see what he wanted from me.”