Reasons for Enda’s emotion become clear as he prepares for Pompey exit

Enda Stevens collects his player-of-the-season trophy from Jordan Cross. Picture: Joe Pepler
Enda Stevens collects his player-of-the-season trophy from Jordan Cross. Picture: Joe Pepler
Plymouth Argyle's Remi Matthews. Picture: PA Images

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Enda Stevens sat silently listening to the names roll off the tongue.

David James, Glen Johnson, Peter Crouch, Mark Hateley, Paul Walsh and Darren Anderton were all forwarded.

Enda Stevens with team-mates and chief executive Mark Catlin during the celebrations on Southsea Common. Picture: Joe Pepler

Enda Stevens with team-mates and chief executive Mark Catlin during the celebrations on Southsea Common. Picture: Joe Pepler

Emotion welled in the man who was following in the footsteps of those greats as The News/Sports Mail Pompey player of the season.

Stevens fought back the tears as he leaned back on a treatment table in the Fratton Park physio centre.

A few metres away the home dressing room reverberated with the strains of ‘Campeones! Ole! Ole! Ole!’

The Irishman, though, was in thoughtful mood.

Now we know, in all likelihood, Stevens was reflecting on his last game in a royal blue shirt.

Talk has been circulating of interest from higher divisions in the 26-year-old for a couple of weeks now.

Sheffield United have emerged as the club pursuing his signature.

The Blades have made Stevens the kind of offer Pompey are going to be hard-pushed to match.

Current wage budgets are set to put £3m at Paul Cook’s disposal for a tilt at success in League One.

The obvious response to the circumstances is what of Michael Eisner’s financial input, as and when any takeover from the American billionaire is sealed.

Estimates are currently placing August as the month of completion, though, and that is dependent on the votes of shareholders this month.

Far too late then with the new campaign getting underway on August 5.

The word is the former Aston Villa man’s preference would have been to remain at a club he feels is home.

Settled, valued and content with life in the area, Stevens cuts every inch the happy-go-lucky character who is loving life off the pitch.

And that leads to a players’ best football being played on it.

There is the fact Chris Wilder can offer him Championship football, as well as a superior financial package.

No transfer fee being required to land Stevens strengthens their position on that front.

And that will be one of the great shames of the defender’s exit.

The departures of Jed Wallace and Adam Webster were softened by significant fees being received.

One of Pompey’s top talents will be leaving on a free, with his contract soon to expire.

After missing a single league game in each of his two seasons at Fratton Park, one of the biggest stars will depart on 99 Pompey appearances.

Such is Stevens’ standing, it will create a tinge of disappointment amid the title and takeover euphoria.

But the likeable lad from Dublin can rest assured he will do so as a royal blue hero.

– JORDAN CROSS