Chiedozie Ogbene, new-deal talks and what Rotherham United manager Matt Taylor makes of the situation

Chiedozie OgbeneChiedozie Ogbene
Chiedozie Ogbene
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MANAGER Matt Taylor is delighted Chiedozie Ogbene has been excelling on the international stage even though it may reduce the chances of the attacker staying with Rotherham United.

The 25-year-old, who is out of contract in the summer, scored for the Republic of Ireland against Latvia last month and followed that up with a man-of-the-match display against World Cup finalists France.

The Millers are in new-deal talks with the winger but other clubs will have taken note of his Irish exploits and are likely to try to lure him away from AESSEAL New York Stadium.

“I honestly don’t care one little bit about that,” Taylor said. “I want Chieo to play well in every single opportunity he gets.

“He deserves everything that’s coming to him in terms of his future. Hopefully that’s with ourselves.

“We’ll do everything we possibly can, but I would never want anyone to go away with Ireland and not play well for my benefit. That would be a totally selfish thing to wish for.”

Ogbene rejoined the Rotherham squad late last week and was immediately the target of banter from his teammates.

“He got a little bit of stick from the lads because they were all talking about him playing against Kylian Mbappe,” Taylor said.

“He came up against all the French stars and then he was  back at Rotherham training on a Thursday afternoon in the pouring rain!”


THE biggest grin in football is back and that’s a welcome sight for Rotherham United manager Matt Taylor as his team look to secure their Championship safety.

There was a time, at the turn of the year, when his most dangerous attacker, Chiedozie Ogbene, was struggling for form.

But the flying winger is playing well for his club again and is fresh from starring from his country after running ragged the vaunted France backline in Republic of Ireland colours in a Euro 2024 qualifier last week.

Ogbene’s beaming countenance has been a feature of his near-four-year spell at AESSEAL New York Stadium and Taylor is glad to see its return.

“Chieo is a better person and a better player when he smiles,” the boss said. “If he is smiling, he is happy, relaxed and enjoying himself.”

Taylor never doubted that the forward would come good again, even when fans and the media were pointing fingers at the 25-year-old’s sudden drop from his usual standards as speculation about a possible move raged during the January transfer window.

“He was still doing a good job for the team,” the manager said. “He wasn’t getting the rewards of assists and goals and so on but that can happen. When the outside world were questioning his output and contribution, he was still trying his hardest; maybe trying too hard at times.”

Ogbene’s next chance to shine comes tomorrow when Rotherham will be looking to make it a good Friday in their first clash of the Easter weekend at home to West Bromwich Albion. They follow that up with a long Monday trip to Norwich City.

The former Brentford man has two League One promotions and a Papa Johns Trophy triumph under his belt in Millers colours but missed out on the chance to really make his mark in the second tier a couple of seasons ago when knee trouble sidelined him for six months.

This time around, he is the club’s top scorer, with eight goals from 35 appearances as a winger, striker or wing-back.

People forget that this is Chieo’s first full season in the Championship,” said Taylor, who had the player on loan at League Two Exeter City in 2018.

“To play consistently at this level is a big ask and his burden is even bigger because he’s seen as the ‘main man’ and the main threat in all attacking aspects of play.

“I keep saying to my staff and team that we need to keep improving to make sure that Chieo is not our only outlet. If Chieo is injured or doesn’t have a particularly good game, we have got to be good enough to create elsewhere.”

And here’s another thing ... not only is Ogbene one of the division’s most potent threats, he’s also, in his manager’s eyes, one of its top defenders!

“Defensively, he is outstanding,” Taylor said. “He never gets beaten one v one. People always laugh at me when I say that if you are a good winger you should also be the best full-back, but it’s exactly the same skill set. Chieo shows that time and time again.

“He also keeps himself physically right. He plays more minutes than anyone else in our team.”

January came and went with Ogbene remaining a Miller, although he later admitted that interest from other sides had left him unsettled for a while.

He is out of contract in the summer and has reopened previously-stalled talks with Rotherham about a new deal yet other clubs will no doubt come calling, their admiration piqued to further heights by his recent international exploits.

Before turning in his Man-of-the-Match display in the 1-0 loss to the French he scored the winner a minute after coming on as a substitute in a 3-2 friendly victory over Latvia.

Helping to keep Rotherham up would see his stock rise even higher, reckons Taylor, who would love nothing more than the pace ace attacking the second tier in the 2023/24 campaign still wearing a red-and-white shirt.

“He’s got the trophies in terms of promotions and the cup run,” the boss said. “To stay in the Championship as well would put him in a good position, then it’s about what happens next year.

“If he is with us, fantastic.”


THOUGHTS about his future have been put on hold by Chiedozie Ogbene as he focuses solely on Rotherham United’s Championship run-in.

The winger is out of contract at the end of the season and is holding talks with the Millers about the possibility of signing a new deal.

Other teams will also make a move for him, but the 25-year-old is refusing to look that far ahead as the campaign reaches its most critical stage.

"My number-one priority at this moment is to help the club stay in the Championship," he said. "Whatever happens in the summer is something to address when it comes around.

"Staying up is something that we want to do as a group and as individuals. It is something I’d love to be a part of for the club, my teammates and myself."

Rotherham are in a good position to seal their second-tier safety after failed attempts in 2017, 2019 and 2021 and Ogbene is confident they have what it takes to succeed in their bid to establish a foothold at a higher level.

"We want to win as many games as possible and not just to survive by the skins of our teeth but to be comfortably above the drop zone," he said.

The attacker has spoken previously about his dream of playing in the Premier league and his recent form in a Republic of Ireland shirt won’t have done his appeal to potential top-flight suitors any harm.

"To go away with Ireland and put in performances like that makes you believe that maybe you are capable of playing on the best stages against the best teams,” he said.


CHIEDOZIE Ogbene has long been a Rotherham United fans’ favourite and the Republic of Ireland international loves the supporters as much as they adore him.

The winger was an instant hit after the Millers had taken a gamble in the summer of 2019 by paying money to sign him as a relative unknown from Brentford.

“The people of Rotherham have a special place in my heart,” he said. “The fans here, honestly! Towards the end of the game when they’re chanting your name it gives you an extra ten per cent of energy to get over the line.

“I see how passionate the people are. I meet kids and they have my name and number on their shirts. That’s something I’m not used to. It shows me how appreciated I am. That’s why I try to be a role model and to do my best for the club.”

Ogbene’s performances  for Limerick in Ireland won him his move to Brentford in January 2018 but he struggled for game-time with the Bees, making only nine substitute appearances and no starts.

His switch to AESSEAL New York Stadium changed everything and culminated in him earning recognition from the Republic whose followers have also taken him to their hearts.

“Being here really revived my career,” he said. “What I’m doing today is because of Rotherham United.”