Kieron Freeman has revealed that sheer hard work earned him a lifeline at Bramall Lane after admitting: “I always wanted to play for Sheffield United.”
The former Derby full-back appeared to be destined for the exit door at the League One club at the start of the season, after being deemed surplus to requirements by Chris Wilder. He was transfer-listed but was recalled to the starting XI following John Brayford’s move to Burton Albion, and has impressed at right-back ever since.
His turnaround in fortunes was capped when he scored United’s equaliser at Gillingham, before Billy Sharp sealed victory with a late penalty following substitute Josh Pask’s inexplicable late handball in the box.
And 24-year-old Freeman said: “I enjoyed it! It was nice to nick one at the end. It was a deserved win, I thought; we’d played like that a lot so far and not got the wins we deserve.
“It’s also been great to get back in the team; I’ve always wanted to play for Sheffield United, and always believed I am good enough to do so. Now I’m doing that, I just want to carry on playing for the gaffer and for this club.
“I had to just keep believing that my chance would come... who wouldn’t want to play here? It’s a massive club that shouldn’t be in this division, so that was part of my motivation to get my head down in training and work hard. To try and get that promotion this club, and these fans, deserve.”
Freeman’s sliding finish cancelled out Bradley Dack’s first-half free-kick, which beat goalkeeper Simon Moore and gave the home side the lead. Pask handled Chris Basham’s cross, with Sharp ready to pounce, and the skipper made no mistake in front of the watching Sky Sports cameras.
“I wouldn’t say that!” smiled Freeman, when asked to describe his “rare” goal.
“But I saw Sharpy was going to cross the ball and took a gamble. I felt a goal was coming, to be honest - I got forward in the first half and had a good chance, when I just couldn’t get out of my feet and felt the defender fouled me. But I had the feeling I could nick a goal, and luckily it turned out to be a good feeling.”
Freeman again impressed, this time as the right wing-back in United’s new-look 3-5-2 formation, and added: “It’s a system that suits my game but I’m happy to play wherever and in whatever formation, to be honest.
“I like to defend and attack, even from right back, and to be honest I should have scored against Oxford.
“The gaffer showed with his tactics that he knows what he’s doing, and he’s a great motivator too. He works hard, as do all the staff here, and we have some great players, too.
“So as we all start to gel, and we get to know each other’s games inside out, it’s all coming together. The gaffer has a lot of passion and played for United, so he knows what it means to do that.
“That’s what the fans want, that passion, and we have to go into every game believing we can win - so we get that promotion that we all want.”