Stevens: Pompey was my last-chance saloon

Enda Stevens pictured after Pompey secured promotion to League One at Notts County
Enda Stevens pictured after Pompey secured promotion to League One at Notts County
Niko Kranjcar. Picture: Joe Gidden/ PA Images

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ENDA STEVENS admitted Pompey was his ‘last-chance saloon’ as he bids for his international bow.

The former Blues left-back could receive his Republic of Ireland debut tomorrow against Turkey in Antalya.

The left-back moved to Sheffield United at the end of last season

The left-back moved to Sheffield United at the end of last season

And the League Two title-winner thanked former Pompey manager, Paul Cook, for playing a key role in invigorating his career.

The 27-year-old went from the top flight to League Two in a bid to kick-start his fortunes – a brave move which paid off as he joined Championship side Sheffield United in the summer.

Stevens told the Irish Times: ‘It (Villa) had been a massive step up and it wasn’t that I wasn’t ready, I just didn’t appreciate it

‘I didn’t work as hard as I could to become an Aston Villa player.

‘It got to my head a bit, you think you have made it and that but you are nowhere near making it. At the end of the day, I wasn’t good enough but I had to come away, down the leagues, to find that out.

‘It was never in my mind to come home (to Ireland), but it did cross my mind that I might have to.

‘The phone wasn’t ringing. So when I got the chance to go to Portsmouth I jumped at it.

‘It was my last-chance saloon, definitely; if it didn’t work out there, I don’t know where I would have been.

‘He (Cook) was excellent, he leaves all egos outside the door. He sat me down and said I want you doing this and I don’t want you doing this. I won’t say any more.

‘He makes you work as hard as you can and it’s the fittest I have been. When I went to Portsmouth, he got me as fit as I could be and my football benefited from it.’

Stevens admitted he was slightly surprised the international call has arrived for him now.

He added: ‘I knew I had to get to this level (Championship) to have a chance of being called up.

‘Being honest I wasn’t expecting it so soon. Now that I’m here, though, I’m just trying to buy in to what these lads are doing and what they’re about.’