Sheffield United's Enda Stevens chips in to help those in need

Sheffield United defender Enda Stevens has made a donation to a fund designed to help League of Ireland players affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Thursday, 19th March 2020, 4:26 pm

Stevens, previously of University College Dublin, St Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers, is among a group of professionals who started their careers in the competition to contribute. Stoke City’s James McLean and Kevin Long of Burnley have also pledged money after being approached by their agent Graham Barrett, who won six senior caps with the Republic of Ireland.

The move comes as Sligo Rovers, once coached by former United manager Micky Adams, announced they are temporarily laying off their employees after matches were suspended to try and limit the spread of the disease.

Gavin Bazunu, the Manchester City youth goalkeeper, is also taking part in the drive to help those facing severe financial hardship.

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"Over the past few days, I have been in conversation with a number of my clients from Integrity Sports about how they and I would like to help people," a statement, issued by Barrett, read.

"The challenge for us was trying to identify where best to begin because right now, there are so many deserving cases and so many people in need.

"Together, we have decided what little help we can to an industry very close to our hearts, the health and welfare of the people within the League of Ireland. The league is where most of Integrity Sport's international clients like James McClean, Enda Stevens, Kevin Long, Gavin Bazunu etc began their careers and their opportunities were born here.”

Stevens, aged 29, joined United from Portsmouth in 2017 after moving to Fratton Park via Aston Villa. After helping Chris Wilder’s side gain promotion from the Championship last term, he agreed a new contract with the club earlier this month following a series of impressive displays at Premier League level.

Enda Stevens in action for Sheffield United: Chloe Hudson/Sportimage

"Enda has become one of the top players in the division, in his position, in our opinion, and he deserves rewarding with a new contract, that's what we're trying to do at the moment,” Wilder said, when Stevens’ decision was announced. His performances have been outstanding for both club and country.”

Enda Stevens signs a contract extension at Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, Sheffield: Simon Bellis/Sportimage