Enda Stevens has been one of the standout performers for Sheffield United this season as the Blade march towards Europe.
Signed on a free from Portsmouth, Stevens has developed into one of the most consistent performers in the United XI. Along with George Baldock, Stevens has become integral to the Blades’ play in wide areas.
The left-back has come a long way since he first joined. Indeed, there were calls, at times, for Stevens to be replaced by a steady hand in Daniel Lafferty. The experienced Northern Ireland man had proved invaluable in League One before Chris Wilder opted to sign Stevens.
And one of Stevens’ former managers, Paul Cook, has revealed just what the left-back needed to do in order to make it at a higher level.
“He needed to develop a ruthless nature, a ruthless style, an aggressive style. That’s not kicking people or doing stupid things on the pitch. That’s aggression in his play,” Cook said. (Portsmouth News)
“That’s getting forward quicker, that’s crossing the ball with more anger in the cross, little bits of devilment in his game. They call it an edge in football and Enda was playing without an edge.”
Stevens has, of course, since found that edge. He’s scored once this season and set two up, while last season he scored four times and set a further six goals up. Proof, then, in itself that the Republic of Ireland man has improved his game.
Falling out with football
Despite being one of the standout players in the United squad, Stevens, according to Cook, could quite easily have given up on football.
He arrived in Portsmouth having failed to make the grade at Aston Villa. And Cook admitted that Stevens had a big decision to make at his point in his career.
“Talent alone will get you nowhere. Enda came over and got his big move from Shamrock Rovers. It didn’t work, he could have finished up and said it wasn’t to be but sometimes having that little bit of hurt is good for a lad’s hunger.”