Sheffield United: Blades recruit’s old pal tribute

Happy moment: Dave Kitson celebrates his goal against Rovers.
Happy moment: Dave Kitson celebrates his goal against Rovers.
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IT’S a New Year and Danny Higginbotham is relishing a fresh start at Bramall Lane.

Following a phone call from friend Dave Kitson on Sunday night, the versatile defender, who turned 34 last month, decided to move to Sheffield United from Stoke City on a free transfer.

Just hours after completing the transfer, Higginbotham made his Blades debut in the entertaining 2-2 draw at promotion rivals Doncaster Rovers on New Year’s Day, with Kitson, barracked throughout by the home faithful, hitting a late equaliser as United staged a remarkable late fightback to salvage a point.

Higginbotham, who has recently been on loan at Championship outfit Ipswich Town, told The Star he initially agreed to extend his spell at Portman Road.

But after a conversation with Blades striker Kitson, a former teammate of Higginbotham’s at Stoke, the centre-half chose to sign a six-month deal with Danny Wilson’s side and now he is determined to use the switch as a springboard to relaunch his career.

“I know Dave very well,” said Higginbotham. “He rang me on Sunday and mentioned it (the move) to me.

“Dave and I go back a long way and I didn’t have to think twice when the deal was put on the table because Sheffield United is an ambitious club.

“Dave is a great player with a real touch of class. We have seen it at the top level for many years.”

“I came down on Monday night,” he added. “I didn’t have the greatest night’s sleep! I am delighted to have this opportunity and I am still getting my head round it because it has been a whirlwind 24 hours. I am just very thankful to the club and the manager for wanting to get me here.”

In total, Higginbotham made 12 appearances at Ipswich but the Manchester-born player was frozen out after their draw with Peterborough United on November 24.

He said: “I have not been playing as much as I want to recently. It is frustrating because I’ve said throughout my career that I want to be playing football. As a youngster, you don’t realise how quickly your career goes by and you don’t want to look back and go that was two years I sat on my backside and picked up my money. That is no good to anybody because when you finish football there is no going back.”

Brought in to cover the injured Neill Collins, Higginbotham claims he came close to joining United six years ago when he plied his trade at Southampton.

He added: “I consider myself very lucky and privileged to have the opportunity to play for such a big club like this and hopefully be part of a team that can get promoted. I know last year was heartbreaking for everyone and I want to get the club back where it belongs.”

Higginbotham felt United demonstrated “real character and togetherness” at the Keepmoat Stadium, saying: “You don’t comeback from 2-0 down against a team who are right up there by fluke.”

Did you know? Former Manchester United trainee Higginbotham has played nearly 350 league matches in his career and has commanded a seven-figure transfer fee on three occasions.