John Brayford says the reason he left Sheffield United in 2016 was down to money.
Brayford became something of a cult figure at Bramall Lane after initially arriving on loan from Cardiff City in January 2014.
That season the Blades reached the FA Cup semi-finals, with the right-back making his debut in the fourth round draw against Fulham.
Brayford describes the replay win at Craven Cottage as being “in the top three games I’ve ever played in”. Yet Brayford is most fondly remembered in that run for scoring against Charlton Athletic in the quarter-final.
After six months back at Cardiff, the 32-year-old made his move to South Yorkshire permanent in January 2015. Officially the price paid was undisclosed. But in an interview with SUFC Memories, it’s quoted United paid £1.3m for Brayford.
Considering they were a League One club at the time, it’s a big fee. Yet it turns out it was the contract handed that Brayford that eventually led to him leaving.
Why John Brayford departed the Blades
Brayford was part of the side that made it to playoffs in 2014/15, before a disappointing campaign under Nigel Adkins the following year.
The defender started the first three games under Chris Wilder after he succeeded Adkins as manager. But then left to reunite with former Blades boss Nigel Clough at Burton Albion.
Clough had just led Burton to the Championship for the first time in their history. Brayford initially joined on loan, before making it permanent in 2017.
The full-back says some people thought he “threw my toys out of the pram” when Clough was sacked by United. Yet according to Brayford, that was never the case. Nor did his relationship with Wilder break down.
“I always got on so well with Chris and there was never any bad feeling whatsoever,” he told SUFC Memories.
“People have always said that he got rid of me or wanted me out of the club because my head wasn’t in it. But it wasn’t like that, we had a great relationship. It was just the fact I was in the second year of my contract at that point and my wages had increased.
“I was told if I stayed I was going to play and be a part of that team but it would do both him and the club a favour if I went out on loan. Burton had enquired and were in the Championship at the time so could take on the bulk of the wages.”
Brayford still loves the club
Following Brayford’s departure, Wilder switched to his now famous back three. Meanwhile, the current Burton man still has a soft spot for the Blades and Sheffield.
Brayford says he still watches them play and is in touch with Wilder. One day, he also plans to move back to the city.
“A lot of people assume things and then some people take that as fact and then before you know it people think that definitely happened and it was never the case,” he continued.
“People say I fell out with Wilder, but I’ve text Chris numerous times since I’ve left.
“It was just the fact, at that time, he needed more players in and that worked out incredibly well for him and the club.”