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The key reasons behind Kirk Broadfoot's rise to prominence

There cannot have been too many better turnarounds for a player at a club than Kirk Broadfoot’s at Rotherham.

The Scot was ridiculed in his first few months at New York Stadium last season as he floundered at right-back and then initially struggled in a central role.

However, he made an impressive recovery at the back end of the campaign, playing an important role in the Millers’ fight against the drop.

But it has been this season where he has really made his mark in South Yorkshire.

After sitting out the first 10 games due to a Football Association ban for an incident involving then-Wigan midfielder James McClean last March, he has forged himself into a key player and a player-of-the-season contender.

He has taken the captain’s armband in recent weeks and has shown himself to be a true leader, showing spirit, determination, strength and no little skill.

Here’s a look at the key areas which have made Broadfoot so impressive this season.

Aerial strength

There’s often no better sight in football than a grizzly centre-half leaping to out-jump a striker and head the ball clear, and with Broadfoot the Millers have been seeing plenty of that. The former Rangers man has come out on top in 71 of his 110 aerial battles, operating at a success rate of 65 per cent and averaging 5.5 per game. In comparison to some of the division’s other top performers, it’s better than Curtis Davies (64%) and only slightly below Shane Duffy’s 69%. When the opposition go long, more often than not Broadfoot will repel it.

Right place, right time

One of the key components of defending is an ability to read the play and position yourself accordingly and that is something Broadfoot has done superbly. It has allowed him to recover from situations when he has been caught out by a lack of pace while also seeing him snuff out many moments of danger. His reading of the play has been showcased by the 38 interceptions he has made at an average of one of every 28 minutes on the pitch. To put that into perspective, Mr Interception Richie Smallwood operates at one every 32 minutes. His positional sense has allowed him to make 60 clearances while he is not afraid to put his body on the line, making nine key blocks.

Playing out from the back

Broadfoot is far from a player who just heads and kicks the ball. He is also capable of playing football and his ability to bring the ball out of defence has seen him start many an attack of the Millers over the last few weeks. Rio Ferdinand and Franck Leboeuf have got nothing on him in terms of marauding runs into the opposition half as Broadfoot has embarked on a nine dribbles, eight of which have resulted in him keeping the ball. He has completed 216 successful short passes and 39 successful long passes, proving he is comfortable on the ball, while he has produced five key passes, showcasing his creativity.

Wily old fox

You don’t get to 31 and play in the Champions League and a Europa League final without learning a few tricks along the way. That has helped Broadfoot use situations to his advantage and get himself and Rotherham out of bother. He has been fouled 14 times, at an average of just over one a game, which is only bettered by Jonson Clarke-Harris and Grant Ward of players who have played more than a 1,000 minutes. And, of course, two of those fouls have been in the opposition penalty box, winning two spot-kicks which were both converted.

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