Enda Stevens: Why I quit Pompey
Enda Stevens has admitted the lure of Championship football was too irresistible to ignore.
The 26-year-old completed an anticipated free transfer switch to Sheffield United earlier this week.
It brought the end to a Pompey career consisting of 99 appearances, one goal and The News/Sports Mail player-of-the-season crown.
The Blues’ decision not to press Stevens into a new deal earlier in the campaign has attracted criticism from some.
Yet the left-back is adamant his departure was never motivated by money.
Instead the prized opportunity to feature in the Championship for the newly-promoted Blades and enhance his international aspirations could not be rejected.
He told The News: ‘This was more about football than money.
‘It’s the right age for me to go back into the Championship and hopefully I can keep developing as a player.
‘The issues of a new Pompey contract is all woulda, shoulda, coulda.
‘I cannot really comment on that because it never transpired.
‘The club had their own ways of dealing with it and you have to respect them for that.
‘I just had to make a decision about whether to join Sheffield United, which represented a great opportunity.
‘I spoke to my family, friends and people who guide me and we all decided that was the best outcome.
‘It’s a big club on the up with Chris Wilder as manager and I feel it’s probably the best move for me at this time in my career.
‘This move also puts me in the window, with a lot of Irish internationals currently playing in the Championship.
‘First and foremost I must concentrate on Sheffield United and, hopefully, once I get playing there, I will reap the benefits.
‘I previously played at that level while on loan with Doncaster for 13 games, it didn’t end so well, we were relegated on the final day.
‘I’m now a more experienced footballer in terms of the amount of games played over the last two years.
‘I know the standard is going to be relatively higher but it’s one I was waiting for.
‘Obviously I’ve loved my time playing for Pompey but it was time for me to now take that step.’
It meant winning the League Two title was Stevens’ last act with the Blues.
He added: ‘Deep down I knew Cheltenham would be my final game.
‘I knew of Sheffield United’s interest and it was great to go out winning the League Two title, leaving with my head up high.
‘It was a bit emotional, to be honest. There was the relief that all the hard work had achieved something as well as the knowledge I was going.
‘Those scenes after the final whistle were ridiculously good, there are no feelings like it.
‘I’m so grateful to Pompey and the fans.’