League One football is rarely played with a samba rhythm but Aidy White wants to bring a little jogo bonito to Bramall Lane, writes James Shield.
The former Republic of Ireland international, who joined Sheffield United from Leeds earlier this week, enrolled in a Brazilian Soccer School programme after setting his heart on turning professional.
Over 100 senior appearances and a young player of the year award later, the words of advice he received from some of South America’s finest talents are still being put to good effect.
“We had people like Socrates and Romario come along to meet us,” White told The Star earlier this week. “I wasn’t old enough to have actually seen them play but everyone was aware of what they’d achieved and so, when people like that speak, you listen.
“What they taught during those sessions is very different to what happens in England. As you can probably imagine, the things they had you doing were very technique based.
“I was still coming up through the age groups at Leeds back then so I was combining the two. Looking back it was great because I was getting exposed to different ideas and different approaches.
“You could say, I suppose, enjoying the best of both worlds.”
White, whose loan arrangement runs until January, has amassed a wealth of experience since making his debut for Leeds at just 16 years of age. But it is the knowledge gained during the West Yorkshire club’s promotion from League One in 2010, combined with a six month spell at Oldham Athletic which White hopes to exploit now.
“This division won’t hold any surprises for me. I know a lot of people, when they come into it, can be a bit shocked because there’s a lot of quality at this level now.
“So that means you can’t take anything for granted. The one thing you’ve got to do is be ready to work hard because nothing, absolutely nothing, gets handed to you on a plate.
“At Leeds, we were seen as a big scalp by a lot of other teams and they raised their games accordingly. So we had to match that and even give a little bit more.
“The same goes for us now at Sheffield United. It’s always important to put everything into a performance. That’s what I try and do and, even though I’ve not been here very long, I can see that’s the attitude the rest of the lads have got.”
Nigel Clough, previously of Derby County and Burton Albion, recollected during Wednesday’s pre-match media conference that he had previously tried to sign White while still in charge at Pride Park.
Within hours of being appointed as David Weir’s permanent successor last week, the United manager informed Bramall Lane’s board of directors that, despite falling out of favour with Brian McDermott, the left-back would make an important addition to his squad.
“Aidy is versatile and brings a bit of pace and directness,” Clough said. “He’s not been here long but he has quickly settled in and done really well.
“You can tell when other players are impressed by someone during training. They have been with Aidy and that always helps.”
“I tried to get him at Derby,” Clough added. “We had some dialogue but it didn’t happen at the time.”
United, who visit Shrewsbury Town tomorrow, climbed to 20th in the League One table courtesy of a deserved victory over Crewe Alexandra last weekend. Graham Turner’s side are 18th after being beaten by Brentford; a result which means they prepared for the contest at Greenhous Meadow having taking maximum points only once in 12 outings.
Despite being unbeaten in three games, Clough has recently reminded his squad that survival remains their immediate priority.
“We still need to realise where we are.”
White, aged 22, insisted United’s perilous predicament had not caused him to think twice before agreeing to a move.
“What you find with clubs like United is that, when they start to gather momentum, it becomes like a machine. Very difficult to stop.
“So that’s got to be our aim now. To make sure that momentum builds-up and keeps going.
“We can’t take anything for granted and that’s got to come across in the displays we put in. But, with the size of the crowds we get here, if we can achieve that then it can become quite intimidating for opponents.
“I’ve seen it before. Psychologically, they start to view games against you differently. But that’s something which has to be earned.”
“Just because I’m here on loan, I’m just as committed to the club as anyone else,” White added. “No matter who I’m playing for, I’ll always give 100 per cent for my club, the supporters and my team mates.
“That’s always been the way I’ve played and nothing is going to change now. It’s important people know that.”
Seemingly destined to become a permanent fixture in the starting eleven at Elland Road, a spate of niggling injuries were responsible for stalling White’s early progress before Neil Warnock’s arrival saw him deployed in a more advanced role.
Named as an England star of the future by one national newspaper soon after graduating from Leeds’ academy, he subsequently switched allegiances to Eire having previously represented the Three Lions at under-19 level.
“I’ve got family in Ireland and I’ve spent a lot of time there,” White, who was born in Otley, said. “I wasn’t getting many opportunities with England after a while and so, when the chance with Ireland came up, it seemed like the right thing to do.”