Billy Sharp knows he can cut it for Sheffield United in Premier League

POINT TO PROVE: Billy Sharp wheels away after earning Sheffield United a 1-1 draw with his first Premier League goal. (Picture: Sportimage)
POINT TO PROVE: Billy Sharp wheels away after earning Sheffield United a 1-1 draw with his first Premier League goal. (Picture: Sportimage)
0
Have your say

TO Chris Wilder, Billy Sharp is simply ‘Mr Sheffield United’.

READ MORE - Richard Sutcliffe’s analysis from Dean Court

Billy Sharp celebrates scoring United's equaliser (Picture: James Wilson/Sportimage)

Billy Sharp celebrates scoring United's equaliser (Picture: James Wilson/Sportimage)

The man himself, meanwhile, has long since gone by the self-deprecating tag, ‘Fat lad from Sheffield’.

Either way, the 33-year-old can now add Premier League goal-scorer to a career CV that already boasted four promotions and the accolade of having found the net more times than anyone else in English league football since the start of the 21st century.

“That goal has to be the top of my career,” said Sharp to The Yorkshire Post. “It is one I will never forget.

“I had to wait a long time since my last Premier League game but I am glad to have my first Premier League goal and that it came with Sheffield United. It is also nice to have now scored in every division.

I have worked my way back. The last three years could not have gone any better.

Billy Sharp

“That was a typical goal for me. I score them in the garden with the kids. I keep telling them, ‘Stay as central as possible and as close to the goal as possible’. That way the ball tends to come to you.

“A scrappy goal but it won’t say that in the headlines.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Sharp was made to wait until his 34th year to score in the top flight.

A proven finisher in the Football League, a first crack at the Premier League appeared to be his in 2012.

Sharp’s nine goals in 15 Championship appearances after joining Southampton midway through the previous season meant he was expected to lead the assault on the elite.

The reality, however, was rather different with the Sheffield-born striker afforded just 20 minutes of playing time from the bench before being sent back to the Championship via a loan to Nottingham Forest.

“Maybe I have something to prove to myself,” he said. “I know I can score goals at Premier League level. I had a short stint with Southampton. Only substitute appearances there, though.

“I had a few off field personal problems at the time. It shouldn’t have affected me or be an excuse. But I was in nowhere as good a condition as my Southampton team-mates.

“That held me back for six to seven weeks. Then, when the season started, I was ready to go but the owner wanted me out and I went on loan to Championship club. I then went to Sheffield United in League One.

“The only reason I dropped (down) was this club. I went from the Premier League to League One in something like a year and a bit.

“But I have worked my way back. The last three years could not have gone any better.

“Maybe I was ready for the Premier League back then but I know I am ready now. I have looked after myself for three to four years. I have made sure there is no excuse for anyone to call me up and say I am not ready.”

Considering his impact at Dean Court on the opening day, few will surely be doubting that Sharp has a role to play this term.

He was one of four who had started the journey towards the Premier League with the Blades in League One but none looked out of place.

“I was disappointed not to start,” added Sharp. “He (Wilder) knows that. But I do appreciate we have five good strikers at the club now and I do believe it will chop and change. I hope I am in the team next week.

“But, if not, I will just keep trying to be effective when I come on. Every player wants to start games.

“I have still not made my Premier League full debut. When that happens, hopefully I can score another goal as well.”

Few, of course, would bet against that sentiment. Not after the sort of career Sharp has enjoyed while working his way up towards that first Premier League goal.

“Maybe it was written in the stars,” added Sharp about his late leveller. “All my family were down and to get the first Sheffield United goal in the Premier league after 12 years is something I will never forget.

“I am just glad it meant something to the club. It is never nice when you score as a striker and it doesn’t get you something from the game.

“But it did and that makes it extra special.

“Now we can go into Crystal Palace (on Sunday) looking forward to it.”