Revealing that playing at Bramall Lane gives him goose bumps and promising to learn Greasy Chip Butty song, Samir Carruthers did not put a foot wrong during his first interview since becoming a Sheffield United player.
Half-an-hour earlier, before he trooped into the Steelphalt Academy’s media suite, it was an altogether different story. Prising apart defences might not prove a challenge for the 23-year-old midfielder. But organising his training gear definitely does.
“I didn’t get off to a great start because I put my shorts on back to front,” Carruthers admitted. “They were on the wrong way round. All the lads noticed and couldn’t stop laughing. I’m probably never going to live it down.”
Carruthers, previously of Aston Villa and MK Dons, became United’s first signing of the January transfer window on Tuesday when he agreed a three-and-a-half contract with the South Yorkshire club. A permanent fixture in their League One rivals’ starting eleven, his presence represents something of a coup for Chris Wilder’s team. Speaking yesterday, Carruthers described United in equally glowing terms.
“The fans are unbelievable. When I played here earlier in the season, it was a real football match.
“I got goose bumps beforehand, it was like ‘right lads, here we go, this is it.’ I haven’t had that too often before but I definitely got them after the Greasy Chip Butty song. I’ll try and learn it but I’m not a great singer and so the boys haven’t go too much to look forward to during my initiation ceremony. Even as an opponents, it raises your game coming here because you know you are in a proper game, at a proper stadium and against proper players.”
Carruthers made over 130 appearances for Dons after arriving from Villa in 2013. A member of the squad which reached the Championship two seasons ago, the experience he gleaned during that promotion winning campaign could turn out to be invaluable as United, three points clear of second-placed Bolton Wanderers, attempt to cross the line at the sixth time of asking.
“I know the history of the club, with it being in the Premier League,” Carruthers continued. “It’s disappointing this club has been in the division for so long but they’ve always been a threat. When the fixtures come out, Sheffield United was always a fixture that you looked for on the calendar and, now I’m here, I have to deal with that.”
“I don’t just want to get promoted here this season,” he added. “I want to do that and then push on. I know how tough the Championship came be, I know what it takes and so, hopefully, if we do go up then I’ll have that little bit of experience I didn’t have last year.”
Carruthers’ first task will be cementing a place in side which visits Southend tomorrow searching for its sixth consecutive win and having scored 44 goals in 17 games.
“I was quite surprised they wanted me after starting so well. I really aren’t bothered where I play, so long as I’m on the pitch. I’ve played in the middle or as a ‘Number 10.’ Then, when the new manager at MK came in, he preferred me being a little bit further wide.
“But I know I can do it, force myself in. If I didn’t, what would be the point of being here?”
A former youth team player with Arsenal, Carruthers displayed the same self-belief when he opted to leave London and accept an academy scholarship at Villa Park. Three years later, towards the end of the 2011/12 campaign, he made the first of three outings for Alex McLeish’s team against Liverpool at Anfield.
“I chose to leave Arsenal because I thought my career would benefit more at Villa,” Carruthers said. “I saw the players ahead of me and I had to be realistic, when people like Jack Wilshere were there. I didn’t have too much to do with people like that to be honest because we were at two different places; London Colney and Hale End, neat Walthamstow dog track, that’s where we were.”
“As a kid, you have no fear,” Carruthers, remembering his senior debut, added. “You’re not bothered who you’re up against because you’re just buzzing. I didn’t really absorb it as much as I should have done because I was just a kid back then. It’s different when you play teams and players like that now. Hopefully I can get back there, to that level, one day. You’ve got to have belief in yourself, go out and give 100 per cent and then, if it’s not good enough, just hold up your hands. But, no matter what, try as much as you can out there on the pitch.”
Carruthers is expected to be named in the squad which travels to Essex this evening after meeting his new team mates for the first time yesterday.
“I’ve been like a new kid at school,” he said. “Coming here is a really big deal for me.”