It has been 12 months since Matt Done made the last of his 110 appearances for Rochdale but, as he prepares for an emotional return to Spotland, the Sheffield United centre-forward admits former manager Keith Hill is still a huge influence even now.
“He’s very big on work,” Done said. “Very big on the idea that hard work can help you overcome a lot of challenges and that’s something I’ve taken with me throughout my career.”
Done first encountered Hill when he began the first of two spells with Rochdale after leaving Hereford in 2010. A year later the 27-year-old joined Barnsley before returning, following a loan spell with Hibernian, on the eve of the 2013/14 campaign.
Done’s performances at the beginning of last term prompted United, then managed by Nigel Adkins’ predecessor Nigel Clough, to sign him for a reported £500,000 fee during the winter transfer window. Hill, describing it as a “really, really good” piece of business, insisted Rochdale refused to “beat” Done “with a stick” because they could not match the financial rewards on offer at Bramall Lane but will have devised a plan to do exactly that when the two clubs meet tomorrow.
“I always try and be a pain for defenders,” Done said. “A pest if you want and try not to give them a moment of peace.
“The emphasis Keith put on fitness, just like the manager here does now, enables you to do that. I remember the running we did at Rochdale and when new lads came in, you’d see them almost being sick but Keith would tell them ‘it’s only pain’ and that their minds could overcome it.”
“The coaching staff here are big on the mind too,” Done said. “And the preparation we get is extremely detailed.”