Rotherham United’s local hero Ben Wiles proof that the good guys can succeed
Closer inspection shows that to be a fair bit. Certainly if you canvass the opinions of those who really know the English Football League.
If there is one individual name which gets banded about more than most, it is that of Ben Wiles.
The Rawmarsh lad has been part of the story for Paul Warne’s Millers for most of the journey. It is hard to comprehend that he only turned 23 in the spring.
He is a player who attracted interest from rival clubs in the close season. According to some reports, Burnley submitted three offers for Wiles earlier this summer, thought to be worth up to £2 million plus add-ons. Rotherham were not for doing business.
There is a fair chance that Wiles will go onto pastures new one day. Hopefully not one day soon, mind. He has chapters still to write with his boyhood club.
Another milestone moment arrived on Tuesday when he captained his hometown club for the first time at Preston.
There will have been a discernible swell of pride from his family and friends at viewing that sight. Especially his older brother Alex.
A fellow midfielder, Alex failed to make the grade with the Millers after being a scholar there and dropped down into non-league football.
Warne has always taken great delight in not just developing good players, but good individuals. It’s his raison d’etre. Rest assured, he has both in Wiles.
Warne said: “I think the world of Wilesy as I do all my players.
“Wilesy is someone who I will keep in my phone book for the rest of my life. He’s a really good kid and level-headed and one of those who is good at everything.
“If you said ‘Could you draw’, he’d be like Leonardo da Vinci or play golf like Nick Faldo or Serena Williams at tennis.
“I am a bit quirky, but I like it when people have met him out and said: ‘I met Ben Wiles the other day and he’s a great kid.’ That’s nothing to do with me, but that’s his upbringing. You could sit and talk to him about anything.
“He’s a really knowledgeable, engaging kid. My son is in the building now and he’s always speaking to my son and has time for everyone.
“He’s got a really good future ahead of him – whether it is with us or someone else. He’s got a really good grounding. His brother puts him in place if he steps out of line and he’s got a really tight relationship with Hammy (Matt Hamshaw) as he has been coaching him for the last 10 to 12 years.”
Should Wiles play his part in helping the Millers retain their Championship status – which has cruelly eluded them during the Warne years although not for the want of trying – then few would begrudge him if he earned a big move next summer. Even if there would be disappointment.
The form of Wiles, Dan Barlaser and Chiedozie Ogbene in particular will be key if the Millers are to break the cycle and stay up. They are players who would certainly not look out of place in the top echelons of the division with time still on their side as well.
On whether Wiles could even feature in the top-flight one day, Warne added: “I think he could.
“In fairness, I haven’t worked with Premier League players, so have not got a comparison, but a fantasy comparison from seeing things on TV.
“I’ve seen him in games against ex-Premier League players or in the Cup and he always plays really well. I remember when we played in the FA Cup at Man City and at no point of the game did he embarrass himself and he was the only one of our team who looked like physically and technically that he could play at that level. Although I am not saying he could play for Man City, he did excellent against (Phil) Foden.
“I am not wishing that people come and buy him as I want him here, but I just hope if he does fulfil his potential and when we are old and getting pushed around, we can look back and think we have had a small effect on his life.”
United could be boosted by a fresh signing ahead of the trip to QPR, with Warne talking up the prospects of recruiting a new wing-back option before then.
That said, it’s unlikely the player would be involved in London.
Rotherham fans could get their first glimpse of striker Tom Eaves in competitive action though, with the Hull City striker pushing for involvement after recovering from a calf injury.
Warne said: “He will have a chance of being involved in the squad. Starting might be a push too far, but whether I can include him on the bench and get him on the pitch is something I will look at. He is definitely getting closer.”
On a potential new addition, he continued: “I know his club are really keen for him to come here and the lad is really keen.
“After we spoke, the agent sent a voice text straightaway saying ‘The player wants to come to you’. I know he’s got other options and other clubs are chasing him. Unless they send him a private jet to persuade him, I think we have got a really good chance.”