Sammie Szmodics – The Ewood Entertainer

Sammie Szmodics, the Irishman taking the Championship by storm this campaign is quickly becoming a fan favourite amongst the raptures of Ewood Park. Applying his trade for a club with a history of success and although times may have been bleak over recent years, Jon Dahl Tomasson and his exhilarating playstyle is allowing the Blackburn Rovers number 8 to flourish as they attempt to bring elation back to the Lancashire giants. 


A player signed by the Danish coach after the relentless injuries to former Ewood entertainer, Bradley Dack, in an attempt to rejuvenate the attacking options the club bolstered. Signed from Peterborough after their relegation from the Championship with Szmodics impressing despite their unfortunate season. A transfer that has transformed Blackburn Rovers and one who personifies the direction in which they are trying to progress. 


Blackburn are a team that create an abundance of big chances, the most in the Championship in fact, with 44 big chances created after 16 games, all of which Szmodics has started. A player who has typically applied his trade in the attacking midfield role in his previous campaigns has taken on a new role this season with Rovers’ lack of attacking depth and an injury list hotting up during this busy period. Szmodics has found himself playing as a false 9 due to this and he has taken it in his stride. 


He is currently at the peak of the Championship goal-scoring charts with 10 goals in the opening 16 fixtures, collecting 2 assists along the way, also putting him at the top of the goals and assists rankings in the division; smashing the 7 G/A he registered throughout the course of the 2022/23 campaign. 


Photo: SofaScore


His 12 goal contributions put him level with Adam Armstrong atop the league’s charts and one above Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Crysencio Summerville. Performing in this electric form, he earned himself his first senior call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad for their Euro Qualification matches. A feat which at this rate won’t be his last. 


Impact on Games


With Blackburn only having 9 different goalscorers this campaign, Szmodics’ output has been instrumental in earning Rovers points. The second-highest goalscorer after him is Arnor Sigurdsson with 3. Despite Szmodics having no standout feature to his game, it’s his dynamism that has caught the eye. His ability to play with the ball at his feet or intelligent runs in behind makes him a handful, causing defenders huge problems. 


With Jon Dahl Tomasson typically opting to go with the 4-3-3, Szmodics’ ability to link play is highlighted; he likes to drop deep to receive the ball and then make his run toward the box to finish off fast-paced counterattacks. His passing ability is to the benefit of Rovers, operating at an extremely high level for both short and long passes completed, an exhibit of how complete of a player he is despite his output being the main talking point. 


Photo: FBRef


A big feature of the Irishman’s game that may go unnoticed by the casual fan is his tireless work rate and the desire he shows for the badge. Starting all of the opening 15 games for Blackburn, amassing over 1300 minutes, missing only 46 minutes this league campaign highlights his importance in the functioning of this Blackburn side and the trust Tomasson puts into him to perform and work tirelessly for 90 minutes. 


Finishing and Goal Involvement


With the big departure of Ben Brereton Diaz in the summer, Rovers needed a new talisman and Szmodics has taken on this duty and has not looked back. His football IQ has found him in big goal scoring opportunities, ones of which he has taken eloquently. 


Szmodics has mastered the art of opening up his body and caressing the ball into the far corner. A perfect example of this was against Norwich at Carrow Road; he peels off the centre back, is fed a driven ball by Andrew Moran and he takes a perfect touch to set himself to take it past the last defender. He then opens up his body before delicately finding the bottom right corner. Celebrating in style with his iconic salute celebration in front of the travelling away fans. 



His playmaking ability and unselfishness should not go unnoticed. Despite scoring the third goal in Blackburn’s victory over Norwich, his involvement in the build-up was key. Szmodics sprung the counter-attack to life after a set-piece from Norwich, progressing the ball from the edge of his own box to the halfway line before finding Dolan.


The gut-busting run he makes next is most impressive and vital to the goal as it drags a Norwich defender out of position; again highlighting his impact off the ball as well as his involvement on it. The ball is then sent wide for Moran to fire across the box to find Szmodics who had continued his advanced running and with a striker’s instinct, pokes the ball neatly in at the back post to take his goal tally to 9 for the season. An intelligent attacker with the ability to match. 



If he can continue to produce output of this calibre, he and Blackburn Rovers will be looking to head to the pinnacle of English football, the Premier League. A team with big aspirations and a player to match who is growing in confidence at Blackburn, who sit 12th in the Championship, four points away from sixth-placed Sunderland, and who will travel to Stoke City before ending the month with a visit from Birmingham City.


What Next for Szmodics?


At the level Szmodics is performing, he is currently on for the best campaign of his career. The Irishman will have aspirations of the Premier League and with the 28-year-old hitting his prime, now would be a perfect time to make those dreams come true. He will be hoping to go one better with Blackburn Rovers after missing out on the playoffs on goal difference last season. A Golden Boot will also be in the sights of the forward and there’s no reason why he can’t achieve it. 


Despite being left out of the recent Republic of Ireland squad, Szmodics will be keen to prove a point and make Stephen Kenny regret his decision. A player who encapsulates the growing belief in Blackburn of recent years, one every side wishes they could have. Very much a surprise package in the Championship this season but he is showing no signs of slowing down, Szmodics wants to prove his worth and currently, he’s in dreamland. Don’t be surprised if he’s winning awards at the end of the campaign, Sammie Szmodics is the new rose in Lancashire. 


By: Ben Sheldrick / @benshlrz

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Dave Howarth – CameraSport