Lee Camp speaks to www.themillers.co.uk...MILLERS stopper Lee Camp has hailed Rotherham United’s Championship survival for the second successive season as his “biggest achievement” in football.
The Derby-born ‘keeper has arguably been the Millers standout performer during their topsy-turvy campaign, as the AESSEAL New York Stadium looked destined for the drop in late-February, after being six-points adrift of safety at one stage.
However, Neil Warnock’s arrival at the Millers helm heralded a transformation of fortunes at the club, as they embarked on an 11-game unbeaten run, which saw them claim the scalps of Championship heavyweights such as Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United as well as claiming an unlikely point against Derby County despite being three goals down with just seven minutes remaining.
The Millers faithful have often rubbed their eyes in disbelief over their side’s uncanny ability of finding a way to win in the unlikeliest of circumstances during their record breaking run, which has seen the players almost go from ‘zero to heroes’ in the space of a few months.
Speaking following the goalless draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend, which ensured the Millers will be strutting their stuff in England’s most competitive division for the third year-in-a-row, Camp was unequivocal in his view that the ‘Warnock factor’ has been pivotal in his side’s remarkable reversal of fortunes.
"It's unbelievable. It's the biggest achievement I've had in my football career,” Camp enthused.
“When we lost at Bolton, there were some heavy heads in the dressing room in how we lost and we looked at the table and it did not look great but the manager has come in and done fantastic.
“He took all the pressure off us. We had a bit of a sticky start (under him), as we lost the first couple of games but we got a win and you build on that, as the confidence starts to flow.
“We have worked on a good formation which suits the personnel we have got and we have been hard to beat while we always look like we can score a goal.
"He's a good motivator. He takes the pressure off you and keeps it very simple. He's very natural when he speaks and very easy to get on with. He makes jobs very clear and you can see why he has had success throughout his career. There are not many managers around, who has got the record he has got but he’s had a massive influence on the side and that's clear for everyone to see.”
Camp has enjoyed a distinguished playing career which has seen the Northern Ireland international ply his trade in England’s second tier for the majority of his career with the likes of home town club, Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Queens Park Rangers.
Last season, Camp was part of the Bournemouth squad, which achieved promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history, but at the start of this season’s campaign, he largely found himself on the periphery of their top-flight adventure.
Consequently, Camp took the bold step of swapping the Premier League limelight for a Championship survival battle with Rotherham and he soon made the Millers number one jersey his own with his consistency between the sticks often earning his side a vital point or rare victory earlier in the season.
Warnock’s arrival at the Millers helm has arguably seen Camp afforded greater protection from his side with the wily tactician asking his side to defend from the front with Greg Halford asked to fulfil a midfield enforcer role in front of the back four.
The move has paid dividends in spectacular style as Camp has racked up six clean sheets during the Millers unbeaten run and the 31-year-old is quick to recognise the efforts of the defensive unit, which has arguably been the glue on which the club’s recent success has been based.
“I'm very lucky to play behind such a good back four,” Camp enthused.
"I think Broadfoot has been fantastic all season for us. I think he epitomises what a centre-half should be and I think since Woody has come into the team. He has used his experience and given us a natural balance, being left-footed.
“The partnership that they have and with myself, has been excellent, and I cannot speak highly enough of them while the two full-backs have been solid and do not allow many crosses into the box.”
The Millers newly-found defensive fortitude was no more in evidence than at Wolves last weekend, where Camp tipped a Danny Baath first-half header against the bar before denying Joe Mason twice in one-on-one opportunities.
The home side did finally breach Camp’s defences when Jed Wallace struck goalwards with a low drive late on but Stephen Kelly came out of nowhere to clear from his own line.
The final whistle saw Camp lead the Rotherham celebrations, with his fist-clenching antics, bringing cheers from the Millers travelling contingent, and although the Molineux affair lacked the drama of recent games, Camp was delighted his side sealed their own Championship destiny, with two games to go, rather than relying on results elsewhere.
"I thought it was a bit of a nothing game really,” Camp admitted.
“There were few chances for either side but we got the point, which was our main objective, so overall, it was a great day for us.
“We went in to win the game and we could have done it but we could have lost it.
“It’s job done and it's very pleasing for us. We had a bit of fortune but we got a good clean sheet away from home and got the all-important point we needed."