Then in the colours of Middlesbrough, who he joined in the second half of that season from Blackburn Rovers, Rhodes had to bide his time to make an impact, quite often from the bench.
He scored six times, with his haul including a vital late brace to turn around a dramatic game at Bolton Wanderers and a dramatic last-gasp equaliser at MK Dons in a season which ended with nervy Boro pipping Brighton for the second automatic place on the final day of the campaign.
Rhodes’s second coming at Town may have been a slow burner, but goals in back-to-back games against former side Boro and Barnsley are proving that he can be an important weapon when it matters once again.
Rhodes, who has been deputising admirably for Danny Ward, who could return from injury this afternoon, said: “As a striker you play out scenarios in your head before you go to sleep and when you are on your way in, in the car, in the morning and you think: ‘Right, what happens if this happens’ and ‘I have got to be ready for this situation if I get called upon. It is nature of being a footballer and dreaming of what is possible.
“You have got to try and sharpen your skills, so you are in the best possible condition. The last couple of games have been really pleasing to play in a winning team.
“At the same time, you tell yourself with your professional head on that it has only been two games and wins and you have to make sure you continue to knuckle down.
“It has been a good story and we just want to make sure that the story continues and we do the best that we can and do ourselves proud in these next three weeks or so. We have got to try and do ourselves justice.”
Amid a tense end to a season when fates are on the line for clubs at opposing ends of tables, embracing the pressure and enjoying things is also key in the eyes of Rhodes.
Despite having to wait to make his mark at Town – and being stymied by a back injury in the first half of 2021-22 – Rhodes is a wise and well-rounded senior player these days who understands the value of patience.
After a difficult time at Sheffield Wednesday, he is happy to be back on terrain he knows well. But he is also the first to admit that he is still learning, even at the age of 32, under a bright young coach in Carlos Corberan.
He added: “In any walk of life, you never stop learning and this is a changing room who have the conscientiousness to keep on learning and better themselves as players. It is a really good dressing room to be part of who genuinely want the best.
“You have to enjoy these situations. The lads are there on merit and it has been a long old slog.
“Enjoy it because these times don’t come around every season and football is such a short time. These are the times you remember, when you are retired and struggling to walk about.”