AS A youngster taking his first steps in English football, Enda Stevens had something of a tough start.
The Dublin-born full back, after signing for Aston Villa from Shamrock Rovers, faced Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal in his first trio of Premier League starts.
Injury brought an abrupt end to those promising beginnings and before long Stevens was embarking on a series of loan periods before landing in League Two with Portsmouth in 2015.
Since then the 28-year-old’s career has been on an upwards trajectory with a potential Premier League return in Sheffield United colours very much on the cards.
“I broke in at Villa but then got injured,” said Stevens, fresh from scoring his first goal of the season in Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw at Birmingham City.
“I was not really up to the performance level you needed when I came back. I found myself wanting.
“I had to go down the leagues, work hard and then get myself back up to Sheffield United. Now, we are looking to achieve something.
“Once I signed for Sheffield United I knew there was a possibility (of getting back).
“We got a taste of the Championship last year and then really kicked on. We learned a lot from that.”
The Blades are locked in a two-way scrap for automatic promotion with Leeds United.
Chris Wilder’s United would return to the top two by beating Millwall tomorrow albeit possibly only for a couple of hours due to Leeds hosting Sheffield Wednesday in the tea-time kick-off.
Stevens added: “In the long run it (promotion) is decided over a block of games rather than game by game. But we have got to focus on every game as it comes.
“The biggest disappointment for us at Birmingham was the fact we took the lead and then conceded soon after from a set-piece. We knew that was their biggest strength and we knew that they look to those as their biggest outlet.
“So to let one in from one of those situations was a shame. I know they nearly caught us on the counter a couple of times.
“But, to be honest, if we could have just seen that situation out (late in the first half) I could not see them scoring against us.”