Captain Michael Doyle has revealed the extent of his affiliation with Sheffield United, by insisting: “I love playing for this club.”
The Irishman made the emotional admission after Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final win over Charlton Athletic, which set up a Wembley semi-final date against Yorkshire rivals Hull City.
That showpiece semi-final will cap an amazing turnaround for United, who were languishing in the relegation zone when manager Nigel Clough was appointed to succeed David Weir.
Like his predecessors Weir and Danny Wilson, Clough entrusted Doyle with the armband and Doyle said: “We went through a lot at the start of the season, and it’s hard to describe in words how it feels to be where we are now.
“It’s so emotional for everyone, but especially the lads who have been here for a few years.
“Footballers as a whole get this reputation as overpaid people who don’t care about the club they’re playing for, but there are a group of us in that dressing room who love playing for Sheffield United and we all want to be successful.
“All credit to the manager; he has galvanised us, brought in players to make us better and it’s getting results.”
Barring illness or injury, Doyle will now lead United out at Wembley against Premier League side Hull on Sunday, March 13.
Clough, like Weir and Wilson, has also been forced to defend his captain’s credentials and the Irishman admitted: “I have been questioned at times, and this isn’t all about me, but all I can say is that I give everything for this team, whether I am wearing the armband or not.
“Every single one of us has to prove every day that we deserve the chance to go out and play, and we want to go to Wembley and put in a good performance for our incredible support.
“Every round of this cup run has galvanised our season; when we started, we were at the bottom of the third division and now look we are.
“It’s just amazing. We’re reaching for the stars and we just want this season to keep going... Let’s see where it can take us.”
United, who faced Carlisle last night, have confirmed that their clash against Oldham will now take place on April 29, with a 7.45pm kick off.