Sheffield United: Terry says welcome to his world

Nigel Clough is a big fan of Terry Kennedy's wholehearted approach � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
Nigel Clough is a big fan of Terry Kennedy's wholehearted approach � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
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Subjects of conversation included Chelsea legends, disappearing car parts and body modification, writes James Shield.

Welcome to the weird and multicoloured world of Terry Kennedy.

Sheffield United v Preston North End   10.01.2015'pic Martyn Harrison'Terry Kennedy  - Sheffield United & Thorsten Stuckmann - Preston North End''� copyright : Blades Sports Photography

Sheffield United v Preston North End 10.01.2015'pic Martyn Harrison'Terry Kennedy - Sheffield United & Thorsten Stuckmann - Preston North End''� copyright : Blades Sports Photography

The Sheffield United defender whose whole-hearted approach and work ethic has impressed Nigel Clough in recent weeks. Unlike his burgeoning collection of tattoos.

“I’ve always been into them but I don’t think the gaffer’s that happy. He’s always telling me to wear long sleeves to cover them up and not to have any more done. But so long as you can’t see them in my kit, I don’t think he’ll mind.”

Probably not if Kennedy, speaking at the Redtooth Academy on Tuesday, continues to deliver the type of performances which, having initially captured Clough’s imagination during a Professional Development League fixture last term, have recently been rewarded with a place at the heart of United’s first team defence.

A remarkable achievement given that, just two seasons ago, a reoccurring knee injury threatened his entire future in the game.

The artwork which adorns Kennedy’s torso tells the story of a career shaped by family, struggle and the surgeon’s knife. His latest piece reads “God gives you pain to make you learn how to be strong, Stay positive, never give up and always be grateful.” Fitting words indeed.

“I went to London for an operation with Andy Williams, whose apparently the best there is, to try and get everything sorted,” Kennedy said. “The club paid for everything and I can’t thank them enough for that.

“Before, I would play a game at 70 per cent and not be able to train for two weeks. Now it feels great to be able to do everything 100 per cent every time.

“My dad is a builder and he’s always driven into me the importance of working hard and giving everything out there on the pitch so that’s become second nature now.”

“I’ve always loved tattoos and I suppose it’s a bit of an addiction,” Kennedy added. “My first one was a koi carp.

“I don’t keep them, I wish I did, but the closest I’ve got is a goldfish I won at the fair once.

“My two sleeves are different. That one is a Japanese them and the other is more religious.

“I don’t go to church but I kind of believe in God and there are people on there who are close to my heart. It’s got my mum’s name on.”

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Kennedy, or the “Ginger John Terry” as coach and mentor Chris Morgan prefers to describe him, made his first outing of the present campaign when United, missing the suspended Chris Basham, beat Queens Parks Rangers in the third round of the FA Cup earlier this month. Having impressed against the likes of Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora - “I learnt so much from facing those lads” - he retained his place for the League One victory over Preston North End and could feature when United, sixth in the League One table, resume their promotion bid at third-placed MK Dons tomorrow.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have some great people to help me and look up too,” Kennedy said . “There are lads here like Jay McEveley, Bash and Collo (Neill Collins) and, of course, Morgs as well.

“He was always the person I looked up to coming through and he always wore his heart on his sleeve.

“Morgs has been a great help to me but he can also stitch me up. I couldn’t tune the radio in my car the other day and it was driving me nuts until I saw my aerial was missing.

“He’s claiming it’s not him and trying to blame other people but I’ve being doing my detective work.

“I don’t really want to get him back, because like the gaffer he’s done a lot for me but I can’t let that pass.”

Clough’s admiration for Kennedy’s battling qualities is reflected by the fact that, after making his professional debut at Swansea City in 2011, eight of the central-half’s 10 appearances since have come following the manager’s appointment 15 months ago.

“Knowing someone as good as him sees something in me feels great,” Kennedy said. “This is a massive club and a lot of people dream of putting the shirt on. I’m lucky enough to do that.

“So giving everything is just respect for the fans really. You’ve got to put your body on the line and see where it takes you.”

Tomorrow, in Buckinghamshire, United will go a long way towards finding out. With 15 points separating them from Bristol City, who occupy the second automatic promotion berth, losing to opponents who triumphed 1-0 in South Yorkshire earlier this term would deal a huge blow to their hopes of taking the quickest possible route back to the Championship.

“I thought we were unlucky to lose our last one with them,” Kennedy said. “We definitely deserved to take something from the game and you could tell that from their reaction afterwards.

“We know we are playing well at the moment and we’re coming off the back of a good result so there’s no shortage of confidence or belief. We just want to go out there and do it all again.”

Twitter: @JamesShield1

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