Sheffield United's George Long has Premier League ambitions

George Long wants to join the rising number of young goalkeepers plying their trade in the Premier League.
Sheffield United?s George Long. (Picture: Sport Image)Sheffield United?s George Long. (Picture: Sport Image)
Sheffield United?s George Long. (Picture: Sport Image)

The 22-year-old has been one of Sheffield United’s consistent performers this season, joining an elite group of Academy products to make 100 senior starts for the Blades in last weekend’s loss to Wigan Athletic.

That loss leaves the Blades five points adrift of the League One play-offs ahead of Saturday’s South Yorkshire derby at Doncaster Rovers.

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But Long is confident 11th-place United can gatecrash the play-offs, and take a step closer to following his boyhood idol Paddy Kenny in representing the Blades in the top flight.

“You see a lot of younger ‘keepers now,” said Sheffield-born Long. “There’s Sam Johnstone, Jack Butland (Stoke City) is playing for England and Declan Rudd (Norwich City) too.

“It’s a case of if you’re good enough, then you’ll get your chance. It’s brilliant to see so many young ‘keepers getting their chance now at the highest level and, hopefully, I’ll be playing in the Premier League too.”

Long made his United debut as a raw 17-year-old on the final day of the 2010-11 Championship season, in a 4-0 defeat to Swansea City.

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He has already played under several managers, and despite loans spells at Oxford United and Motherwell, has chalked up 100 starts for United.

Despite defeat to Wigan on Saturday, it was a proud moment for the Long family, then schoolboy George a former season ticket holder at Bramall Lane.

“My mum and dad come to most games,” he said. “It will have been nice for them to see me get to a 100 for Sheffield United.

“They were always ferrying me around left right and centre as a kid. I really appreciate what they did for me and it wouldn’t have been possible without them.

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“It’s a great milestone for myself and something I’m really proud of.

“I grew-up as a lad with a season ticket, watching from the stands and, back then, even playing just one first team game for Sheffield United would have made me so proud. So to get 100 is something I’m really proud of.

“I’ve still got a pair of Paddy Kenny’s signed gloves. I might send him a pair of mine now if he wants them.

“Joking aside, hopefully I can play many more games for the club. It’s something I’m really proud and honoured to do.”

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Long has battled with Mark Howard for the goalkeeping jersey this season, and admits his success is down to hard work at the Shirecliffe training ground.

“I’m a better goalkeeper than when I made my debut at 17,” said Long. “Really, it’s just down to hard work.

“I didn’t have a God-given talent or anything like that but I just give everything I can during training. That’s what gives you a chance.”