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Dublin: 4 °C Sunday 15 December, 2019
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'Dream come true' as Stevens completes Villa transfer

Aston Villa have snapped up the Rovers youngster for a fee in the region of €300,000.

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

ENDA STEVENS CAN look forward to finally getting a good night’s sleep tonight after he signed off on a dream move to the Premier League this afternoon.

The Shamrock Rovers left-full will link up with Irish internationals Shay Given and Richard Dunne at Aston Villa in January after the clubs agreed a fee thought to be in the region of €300,000.

With Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur also rumoured to be chasing his signature before the transfer window shut, Villa boss Alex McLeish took no chances and snapped up the 21-year-old on a three-year deal.

By delaying the deal until after Christmas, Stevens, a vital part of Rovers’ European success this season, will be able to play on with the Hoops in the group stages of the Europa League before moving to Birmingham.

“This is massive for me. It’s a dream come true,” Stevens said earlier today. “I never expected it to come as soon as it has, especially after the last few games in Europe.

I haven’t had much sleep over the past couple of days since I found out this move could be happening. Let’s hope everything calms down for me now.

“I grew up following and watching the Premier League and I can dream of playing in it now. Villa have had some great Irish players and been very good for Irish players.

“Exciting prospect”

The move will end a very successful spell for Stevens with Rovers, the club he joined from Dublin rivals St Patrick’s Athletic in the winter of 2009.

Alongside his league and Setanta Cup winners’ medals, the youngster enjoyed two huge European adventures, the second of which continues in a fortnight’s time when Rovers welcome Rubin Kazan to Dublin.

It was great winning the title on the final day in my first season. That was a big experience, one of the best experiences. Once you’ve done that you want to go bigger and bigger again and, hopefully, that will happen.

However, it was the showpiece European fixtures against Flora Talinn, FC Copenhagen and FK Partizan which really put Stevens in the shop window, according to new boss Alex McLeish.

“Enda’s performances, particularly in Europe, really caught our attention,” McLeish said. “He’s an exciting prospect.”

Focused

After today’s deal was announced, Michael O’Neill, the man who brought Stevens to Tallaght two years ago, tipped the youngster to make a name for himself across the water.

“I believe he will do very well, but the great news for us is that he will remain a Shamrock Rovers player until the end of this season.

Enda deserves great credit for how he has improved his game and placed himself in a position that one of England’s biggest clubs wanted to recruit him.

And while the excitement of a move to the Premier League has proved to be quite a distraction in recent days, Stevens was quick to assure the Rovers faithful that his feet will be firmly back on the ground in time for Saturday’s Airtricity League clash against Dundalk.

“Obviously, my main focus is the league game on Saturday against Dundalk. I am going to train and prepare as I always do in order to be ready for that.”

New faces

A busy day in the transfer market saw Rovers pick up two new players to bolster their ranks until the end of the year.

Former Tottenham and Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Rohan Ricketts, 28, and left-sided utility man Jim Paterson, 31, both completed free transfers this afternoon.

“Jim will add great experience having played over 300 games at SPL and Championship level, and can play in a number of positions,” O’Neill said.

“Rohan is a very exciting option and can add a little bit extra in the final third of the pitch. He has also played first team football at the highest level.”

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Niall Kelly

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