Corry is happy to play it by numbers with Owls

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There can be few professional footballers who had the confidence to turn down a chance to sign for a Premier League club in favour of going back to school.

Such thinking goes completely against the grain for archetypal youngsters the world over, so desperate are they to emulate their heroes in the game.

But, as any appreciative Sheffield Wednesday fan who has witnessed his first few games will tell you, in more ways than one Paul Corry is not an average footballer.

On the field, at just 21, the Irishman has quickly shown maturity beyond his years in his composed midfield displays.

He may have only made his league debut last month but, with his elegant style, has already been likened by some to Owls legend and former Republic of Ireland star John Sheridan.

Off it, the cerebral summer signing from University College Dublin knows if his foray into professional football does not materialise he always has an accounting job lined up as a fail-safe.

As Corry explained ahead of today’s home encounter with Peterborough, his is certainly an unusual route to the testing Championship environment.

“After I did the equivalent here of A Levels, I had the option to go to Burnley on a one-year professional contract or take up a three-year scholarship at UCD,” he said.

“It was nip and tuck and I didn’t really know what I was going to do but in the end I just didn’t feel as if I was really ready to go to Burnley.

“I was probably not mature enough or ready to settle down by myself so I took the three years and did a business degree while I was there.

“The way it works, I think UCD is the only college team in Europe that plays in the top two divisions of the national league.

“We were in the Premier for my time there and there was a good balance between studies and training which you wouldn’t really be able to do with too many other clubs. But I always had an agreement with the manager that once the three years were done it was probably time to move on and, hopefully, test myself in England as it had always been an ambition of mine.”

There was plenty of interest but once Wednesday had visited and seen him star against both Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers they made their move.

It is understood the Owls – who had previous success in the Irish market when capturing Derek Geary and Alan Quinn from Cherry Orchard 15 years ago – paid a six-figure fee when the transfer was completed in August. Early signs are that it is money well spent.

Given the now infamous events of what happened against Leeds United at Hillsborough just over a fortnight ago, Corry’s impressive Championship bow that night went almost unreported amid all the expected negativity.

But, coming in for the injured Rhys McCabe, he was assured and efficient, retaining his place at Blackburn and in last week’s much-needed 3-0 win at Ipswich.

“Obviously, the Leeds game was a massive one to start and that really bedded me in,” he said.

“They don’t come much bigger than that – Friday night, on TV, under the lights... a lot different to what I’d experienced back home.

“But I felt like I did quite well. I managed to get myself on the ball which is really what my game’s about, and I’ve pushed on.

“After that, I guess there’s nothing really to be too fearful of in upcoming games.”

He has been thankful for the way not only his colleagues at the club have welcomed him but also the general public around the Steel City, while manager Dave Jones has been fulsome in his praise for the player.

Corry, who used to watch Chelsea on regular trips from Dublin with his father and brothers, cites Frank Lampard as an influence as well as a fellow countryman who was plucked with some success himself from an obscure Irish League side – Cobh Ramblers alumni Roy Keane.

However, tellingly, he says Barcelona duo Sergio Busquets and Xavi are favourites as “just the way they pass and move the ball is something to admire.”

He admits there has been difficulties adapting to the higher standard of football but not just for the usual reasons.

“I’m constantly learning, not only in matches but training, too,” he said.

“It’s definitely a big step up from where I’ve come from with less time on the ball; you have to know what you’re doing next before you get it and, physically, it’s a lot quicker tempo.

“But, coming from part-time to full-time, I’m not used to maybe having as much free time as I do.

“You really have to concentrate on resting up, eating right and I guess that transition is difficult; it can be boring and lonely.”

However, the Republic of Ireland Under-23 international admits it is better than accountancy.

“I’m lucky that I have a three-year contract back home with KPMG, who have been good enough to wait for me if the football doesn’t work out,” he said.

“I can take that up which is what my brother has done and both my parents before.

“But I know from listening to my brother, seeing the amount of work he’s put in, that football is definitely the career I’d rather go down.”

dave.craven@ypn.co.uk