Sheffield United: Aston Villa disappointment wasn’t Enda the line for Blades new boy Stevens

Enda Stevens, left
Enda Stevens, left
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Just 11 months seperated Enda Stevens’ League of Ireland days, locking horns with the likes of Galway United and Bray Wanderers, and his move to the English Premier League, where he faced Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero and Lukas Podolski in the space of a fortnight.

But the fall came almost as quickly as the rise for the 26-year-old Dubliner and after loan spells at Notts County, Northampton Town and Doncaster Rovers, twice, he finally found a home on the south coast, in the blue of Portsmouth.

Two years, 99 appearances and one League Two title later, he is a Blade.

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder ended a lengthy pursuit of Stevens yesterday when he unveiled his third signing of the summer, on a three-year deal.

Even a cursory glance at Stevens’ YouTube highlights videos reveals why Wilder was so keen. Ten assists from left-back is a remarkable return in a league title winning side, and in Wilder’s preferred formation he can surely only prosper.

“I had one season you could say at Villa where I was involved, only for a few months where I actually played,” Stevens remembers, of his move to Aston Villa from Shamrock Rovers in 2012.

“I got an injury then and when I came back I never really performed to the standard that I had before and you don’t get that many chances at the top.

“I kind of just got pushed back even further where I wasn’t involved at all but I still had two years left on my contract.

“I had to go out on loan. I enjoyed my loan spells but they’re tough.

“You’re doing a lot of travelling, you don’t feel like a part of the squad. You’re only on loan and you know at the end of the season that you’re just going back to Aston Villa.

“There’s nothing at the end for you. That’s probably the toughest thing about it.”

Premier League games for Villa against Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal give him the confidence that he can cope in the Championship next season, and long-term the goal is a Republic of Ireland call-up.

“It’s what every footballer dreams of doing and I was lucky enough to play against those teams,” Stevens told www.the42.ie.

“The Man United game is probably the most nervous I’ve been before a game but after that you settle down and you kind of just feel like that’s where you belong.

“It’s up to you to maintain that level of performance and I didn’t do that.

“I got injured against Reading and I never really came back the player that I was. You don’t get that many chances up there and the situation we were in - we were fighting relegation - understandably so. You can see yourself falling further and further down the pecking order and it just became a case of me having to prove myself again.”

And how he has. Stevens has swapped one club on the up for another and a Premier League return with the Blades would see his career go full circle.