JORDAN RHODES returned to Huddersfield last summer to bring back happy memories – but never thought he could help get them fired into the Premier League.
The forward is in his second spell with the Terriers, having scored 87 goals from 129 starts in his previous stint – earning him promotion from League One.
And after scoring a spectacular winner against Luton to set up tomorrow’s £200m final with Nottingham Forest, he told SunSport: “Getting into the Premier League with Huddersfield would be a fairy tale.”
The Scot returned after being sacked by Sheffield Wednesday after being relegated from the Championship.
When asked if he thought the team would then realistically take on a promotion challenge, Rhodes said: “No one set it as a target, but it became more likely.
“We finished third in the league and are now in the play-off final.”
Rhodes, 32, was already a terrier legend for his past exploits. They scored an eight-minute header hat-trick against Exeter in 2010, beating the record set by Dixie Dean at Everton in the 1930s.
He became the first Huddersfield player to score back-to-back hat-tricks since the 1920s in 2011. The forward was top scorer for three consecutive seasons and was named League One Player of the Season in 2012.
And he said: “I came back because of the great memories – because I got to go onto a field where I scored goals, played well and had seasons where we were successful as a club.
“It was a wish to want to repeat the good old days – and it’s great to be back.
“It will be fantastic for the whole club and the whole city to get that win on Sunday.”
Rhodes suffered a fractured back after two league games and was sidelined for four months.
And he admitted: “I overdid it over the summer – I trained hard to get back to my best physical condition but I had that pesky pre-season injury and I couldn’t shake it.
“I had it scanned, got the bad news and didn’t have to do anything for a few months because there’s not much you can do with a broken back.
“But the body feels better now – nice and fresh – because I was so well rested.”
Rhodes has played a supporting role since his return – with 17 substitute appearances in the league and six starts.
But he’s on form with three goals in his last five games.
He said: “I always try to do my best – whether it’s helping people, encouraging them or being enthusiastic on a day-to-day basis.
“If there’s a role early on then great, but if it comes off the bench to influence the game, whether that’s to see a game, score a goal or create a chance, I like doing that too .
BETTING SPECIAL – GET LIVERPOOL FOR 30.1. OR REAL MADRID ON 40.1
“Everything I do is aimed at hopefully getting a promotion in Huddersfield.”
Rhodes has certainly made a difference. In the 793 league minutes he’s played, the team has scored 17 goals and conceded just six – and in all the time he’s been on the pitch since January, the team has conceded just one.
He laughed, “That makes me sound like a good defender. But the only thing I’ve gotten better at and developed at is being a nuisance – tossing around and annoying the defenders.
“As you get older, every ball counts when it’s up there. Even if it’s not in my favor, I can tip it our way.
“If I can’t win the ball, hopefully it will fall to someone else on the team.”
Huddersfield also have players with Wembley experience.
Rhodes himself played against Sheffield United in the League One final when Huddersfield won promotion a decade ago – and admits it will help ahead of this weekend’s clash.
He said: “We went through the team the other day.
“Jonathan Hogg got promoted to the Premier League with Huddersfield in the play-offs five years ago.
“Fraizer Campbell rose with Hull. Duane Holmes was injured but was involved at Derby.
“Tom Lees was there with Sheffield Wednesday. Hopefully that takes away any nerves or apprehensions.”
Boss Carlos Corberan has done a fantastic job this season after a difficult first year.
Rhodes admitted, “On a human level he doesn’t come close to us, but on a professional level he certainly does.
“There are meetings before and after training every day. We also have time for one-on-one meetings.
“It is always made clear exactly what the manager wants. There isn’t a day that we don’t interact with him.”
But as an older player, how does he cope with Corberan’s grueling training sessions?
The terrier ace said: “It helps us older ones more because we keep our bodies moving and get high speeds.
“Everyone has their own target that they have to hit. I’ve never had that scenario, but it keeps me in the best physical shape I’ve ever been.”
After beating Luton in the semi-finals, Huddersfield flew to Portugal for warm-weather training in the Algarve – and the players took their families with them.
Rhodes said: “It was fantastic to see the boys with their wives, girlfriends and families and to see the dynamic, like each other’s kids playing together.
“I don’t think too many people talked about the play-off final.”
But now everyone is concentrating on it.
And Rhodes said: “Hopefully we can put on an achievement to make everyone in Huddersfield proud – and have even more reason to celebrate next week’s wonderful bank holiday weekend.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5439481/huddersfield-premier-league-forest-jordan-rhodes/ I never thought I could fire Huddersfield into the Premier League, beating Forest would be a fairy tale, says Jordan Rhodes