RUBEN Rodrigues reckons he has silenced the people who doubted why he chose to join Oxford United last summer.

The Portuguese playmaker became United’s first summer signing last year, when he joined from Notts County in June.

Rodrigues played a significant role in getting the Magpies promoted to Sky Bet League Two during the 2022/23 campaign, and with his contract expiring, he was offered a new deal by the club.

However, it was almost certain that Rodrigues would move up the football pyramid, with the U’s beating reported interest from the likes of Championship side Cardiff City, plus United’s League One rivals Barnsley and Derby County, to his signature last summer.

The U’s beat Bolton Wanderers in the League One play-off final at Wembley on Saturday, to seal a return to the second tier of English football for the first time since the 1998/99 season.

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One of the clubs that Rodrigues was linked with last summer, Derby, will join United in the Championship after finishing as runners up in League One this year.

Speaking as U’s players and staff enjoyed an open-top bus parade through the city centre yesterday evening, Rodrigues said: “The last few days have been beautiful. We’ve won a promotion, and of course direct promotion would’ve been easier, but we did it the hard way.

“It feels great, and it’s the reason I came here for. I saw a lot of tweets when I left Notts County saying ‘why Oxford’, and I think I’ve silenced them. I’m not complaining, I’m excited for the next step.”

Oxford Mail:

For the second successive season, Rodrigues made a series of special memories at Wembley.

Last year, he scored 19 goals and grabbed 15 assists to help County get back into the Football League, with one of those strikes coming in the Vanarama National League play-off final against Chesterfield.

Rodrigues volleyed home in the 108th minute to send the tie to penalties, and also netted in the shoot-out victory.

At the weekend, Rodrigues claimed two assists for United’s Wembley hero Josh Murphy.

The second of which in particular was exquisite, as the 27-year-old shrugged away Paris Maghoma, took the ball out of the air, and then played a delicious pass over the top for the run of Murphy, who took the ball past Nathan Baxter and finished from a tight angle.

Asked about his experiences of playing at Wembley, Rodrigues said: “I make the joke that it’s my second home, but it’s nice for me to go there. I have good memories and I love going there.”