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"I was really fighting for my career" | Stevens on his journey back to the Premier League

Jake O'Donnell
Jake O'Donnell

07:06 23 Nov 2019

A promising 22-year-old defender with experience in the Europa League group stages, Enda Stevens could have been a Premier League mainstay for the decade.

He made his Aston Villa debut in November 2012, playing in Villa's back four for three league games that month, including against Manchester United and Manchester City.

However, Stevens failed to hold his position in the team being sent on loan to League Two side Notts County, followed by spells at Doncaster Rovers and Northampton Town.

It was years yo-yoing between the bottom two divisions of English football, before Stevens eventually found his way again at Portsmouth.

Speaking about his journey back to the Premier League with high-flying Sheffield United, Stevens admitted on Off The Ball that he didn't hold himself to the highest standards during his first spell in the Premier League.

"I made mistakes in my time in Aston Villa. I wouldn't say I was the best professional out there and it told on the pitch," Stevens explained.

"Although I got my chance and played a few games there I never really sustained that level to be a Premier League footballer.

"It got to the stage where I was really fighting for my career and the chance to go to Portsmouth came and from there on in it was kind of all positive."

What was it about Portsmouth that allowed the former Shamrock Rovers man to rebuild his career?

"It was a bit of everything. I needed guidance and I didn't really feel I had that guidance at Aston Villa.

"I was a young kid coming over from Ireland and I needed more help than what I received.

"I'm not saying I'm putting it down to a manager or a coach because at the end of the day it comes down to the individual and the footballer but I was just one of those players who needed more help.

"I needed tough love maybe and I got that from Paul Cooke and he gave me that tough love and backed me and he coached me and told me how to play the position.

"I played left back my whole life but I really only that I learnt the position inside out when I played with him.

"He is that good of a coach and then I just went from strength to strength then and when I went to Sheffield United I learnt a whole different aspect under Chris wilder which has benefitted me even more."

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