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Exclusive feature: Enda says "Hey, I'm no Shakin Stevens!"
Enda Stevens chats about his Villa career so far.
29th Nov 2012
Exclusive feature: Enda says "Hey, I'm no Shakin Stevens!"


Bishop

For someone who had his first taste of Barclays Premier League football less than a month ago, Enda Stevens cuts a remarkably confident figure, both on and off the pitch.

Then again, maybe that shouldn't come as any great surprise.

After all, the 22-year-old Irishman's experience of the European game far outstrips most of his team-mates.

Before joining Villa in January, Stevens had accumulated an impressive haul of 21 Europa League appearances, half-a-dozen with St Patrick's Athletic and a further 15 during a two-year spell with Shamrock Rovers.

"That was my first experience of playing against top-class opposition," he says.

"The big game for St Patrick's was against Steaua Bucharest.

"We lost 3-0 away to them and I had a rough time against their right-winger.

"The game was behind closed doors because their fans had caused trouble at the previous game. That was a new experience for me. It was a decent-sized stadium but you couldn't hear anything. It was really eerie.

"At Shamrock I played against some big clubs including Juventus, Tottenham and PAOK of Greece. Playing against opposition like that has helped me massively because I knew what I was up against when I came here."

The thought of a return to foreign fields isn't exactly at the forefront of Enda's mind, of course.

He's concentrating on getting fit after going over on his ankle in the first few moments of the game against Reading, after impressing against Man Utd, Man City and Arsenal.

While has took all those games in his stride, he admits to having felt just a little apprehensive when he made his first league appearance as a sub for the final 19 minutes at Sunderland a month ago.

"We were 1-0 up when I came on so I was a bit nervous but I really enjoyed it. I was delighted to get on and for the manager to have faith to throw me in there was brilliant.

"It was more excitement than nerves when I knew I would be facing Manchester United. Being on the pitch for Aston Villa against Manchester United in front of a 40,000 crowd was amazing.

"But I feel ready to play against any team because I've improved massively since I came here. That's down to training every day with Premier League players.

"To me, every game is a big game. It's obviously a lot tougher at this level because the game is quicker and you have to stay focused for 90 minutes."

Stevens

The young Dubliner readily acknowledges that his recent breakthrough has been largely down to the absence of injured trio Joe Bennett, Eric Lichaj and Nathan Baker, who are all adept in the left-back role.

But he adds: "Competition brings the best out in everyone. We don't dislike each other. We all get on and there's a great spirit in the dressing room. That's going to help us massively in the coming months. We thrive on competition. We're a team and we help each other through.

"I want to perform to the best of my ability and play as many games as possible for Aston Villa."

Stevens agreed his move from Shamrock to Villa at the end of August 2011 but then had to wait until January before linking up with his new team-mates.

"I didn't have time to think too much about it at first because Shamrock were challenging for the League of Ireland and we were also in the Europa League.

"It was only when the season finished around November time that I started thinking I had to get ready to come across here.

"But once I started to prepare myself, I just couldn't wait.

"When I joined the club I just tried my hardest. If the manager had decided to throw me in I would have been ready but I enjoyed playing for the reserves and we did well to reach the final after winning our group.

"We had a great run and there were some good performances, with emphatic wins over Newcastle and Wolves. I learned a lot from those games."

Enda also went on as a sub in the 4-2 win at Swindon in the Capital One Cup fourth round and, as the team look ahead to the fifth round tie at Norwich City, he would love to help Villa reach Wembley.

"That's something we're all focused on," he stresses.

"We're certainly not taking the tournament lightly. But we're not thinking about it at the moment. There are some important league games before then."

Many Villa supporters will no doubt have picked up on the fact that after playing a couple of games for UCD [University College Dublin], Stevens's professional career blossomed at St Patrick's - the club where a certain Paul McGrath had set out nearly three decades earlier.

"When I was at the club Paul was inducted into the Hall of Fame and he attended the ceremony at the end of the season.

"He's a legend there and I know he's regarded as a god here. It's the same back there.

"I never had the pleasure of meeting him. I saw him at the ceremony but I never got to meet him. It's something I would love to do."

Snap up your tickets and back the boys against Stoke.

 


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