Egan has hard act to follow

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MENTION the name “John Egan” in the pubs and clubs of Tralee and the conversation will invariably turn to Gaelic Football.

After all, he was a member of the famous County Kerry team which steamrollered its way to four straight national titles in the late 70s and early 80s and is still known as “The Machine” to this very day.

Three hundred and fifty miles away and Egan’s son, also called John, is also hoping to become a big noise in Irish sport.

Albeit under the auspices of FIFA rather than the GAA.

“My dad is really well known back home,” Egan said. “He’s a really big name and deservedly so when you look at what he achieved.”

Egan , who joined Sheffield United on loan from Sunderland earlier this month, seemed destined to follow in his father’s footsteps before, as he told The Star ahead of Wednesday’s League One fixture against Chesterfield, “the greater opportunities” offered by association football persuaded him to turn his back on the 15-a-side game.

But Egan said: “I used to play Gaelic a lot at school and I really enjoyed it but when I reached 16 I had to make a choice and I choose football.

“The skills that you need in Gaelic football are a real help now. It’s a really physical game and being a centre-half that has prepared me well.

“Also, in Gaelic, you have to be very good at judging the flight of the ball through the air and so that’s also been useful when it comes to headers and positioning.”

“I like to think I’m quite a physical player,” added Egan. “Probably the defender I watch the most is Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic because he’s one of the best at that type of game. Him and John Terry at Chelsea.

“They both make the very best of the qualities they’ve got and always give everything when they’re out there on the pitch. Those are characteristics I admire.”

Although chances have so far proven limited at Bramall Lane, Egan, who made his debut for Danny Wilson’s team at Walsall three weeks ago, is adamant that the move to South Yorkshire has been a worthwhile experience.

Wilson, who is understood to have been alerted to the teenager’s availability by his assistant and former Sunderland scout, Frank Barlow, recently confirmed he wants to invoke a clause in Egan’s contract with United and retain his services for the remainder of the campaign.

“I don‘t know what will happen with regards to staying here” Egan said.

“What I do know is that I’m learning all the time and training with the first team squad. Working with players like Neill Collins is invaluable experience.”