Sheffield Derby: Sheffield United defender John Egan says he has bought into

John Egan signed for Sheffield United earlier this year: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

John Egan signed for Sheffield United earlier this year: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Four months ago, when his transfer to Sheffield United was completed, John Egan completed a crash course in what it means to be a Blade.

But the Republic of Ireland international, Chris Wilder’s most expensive ever signing, also wanted to learn about the city. And so, after settling into his new home, he made a point of mingling with its people, getting a feel for what really makes it tick and visiting its famous landmarks. 

Sixteen appearances later, ahead of tonight’s Steel City derby at Bramall Lane, Egan believes those hours he spent pounding the streets have left him as prepared as possible for the most emotive match of his career.

“I like to get to know where I live, I like to understand the place and you always meet fans out and about in town or wherever,” the defender said. “I like to have a feel for places and I think I’ve got one for Sheffield already.

“I’ve definitely got a feel for how big this game is. I’ve got that from our fans. You are playing for their club and so you want to represent it in the right way. Because we’re trying to put on a performance for them.”

Egan, aged 26, got a taste of United’s culture earlier in his career when, after progressing through the ranks at Sunderland, he spent a brief period with them on loan. But it was earlier this year, after his £4m move from Brentford was announced, when its values and ethos were truly rammed home.

“The manager makes you aware of how big the club is and the fans really get behind you,” Egan revealed. “We have seen that from day one and they get behind us every time we play at home and away. The fans are fantastic and all we are trying to do is go out and repay them in every game. On my first day here I had them telling me ‘make sure you win the derby.'”

Egan first got a taste for sporting rivalries as a youngster thanks to his late father John; a Gaellic football legend and leading light in the all-conquering Kerry team of the late Seventies and early Eighties.

“The rivalry back home in Gaelic football was Cork and Kerry. I was born and riased in Cork, but my family were all Kerry,” he explained. “I was the only kid in Cork going to school with a Kerry jersey on. 

“I was the one taking all the abuse, but it was good fun and good times.I got a couple (of jokes) thrown at me, to be fair. I cannot remember them.”

“Obviously, this is a different sport,” Egan added. “Back home, there are no transfers really and you cannot move from Cork to Kerry. You are from Cork, you play for Cork and if you are from Kerry, you play for Kerry. 

“There was good rivalry growing up and those were my first days for rivalries. I am looking forward to now testing out the Sheffield one.”