Enda Stevens had played 15 European fixtures by the time he left Shamrock Rovers to sign for Aston Villa.

The left-sided player had helped the Hoops to their second consecutive league title, secured the Setanta Cup and was instrumental and influential as Rovers became the first League of Ireland side to qualify for the group stages of the Europa League.

The 21-year-old had already taken on the mighty Alessandro Del Piero and Juventus, gone toe-to-toe with Tottenham, and faced other European stalwarts such as Copenhagen, Partizan Belgrade, PAOK and Rubin Kazan in a most-memorable season.

From a personal point of view, the defender signed off his League of Ireland career by winning the PFAI Young Player of the Year award.

Stevens' stock could not have been any higher as Aston Villa swooped in to secure the Dubliner. Stevens was off to the Premier League.

With his first full pre-season under his belt at Villa Park, Stevens broke into the first team and found himself up against Manchester United in a game where he and his team started well but faded and were undone in the final stages, losing 3-2, having enjoyed an early 2-0 lead.

Villa lost their next game 5-0 to Manchester City and the defence, which Stevens was part of, got slated on Match of the Day that weekend.

Stevens' Premier League career appeared over before it had even begun as the defender lost his place in the first team and by the end of the season, the club lost their Premier League status.

Notts County, Doncaster Rovers, Northampton Town and back to Doncaster once more – Stevens was playing the on-loan merry-go-round, and while he was enjoying plenty of game time playing in the lower leagues of English football, the standards were dropping and the future was looking a little less clear.

"The phone wasn't ringing and the only club I had knocking on the door was Portsmouth and Paul Cook," explained Stevens, who was beginning to have serious doubts about his future.

Enda Stevens kick-started his career at Portsmouth

The midfielder was still a few weeks shy of his 25th birthday and admitted that he had grave concerns about his next step on the footballing ladder.

"There was definitely a doubt. There was a doubt when I had to go to League Two.

"It was a risk going down there because if it didn't work out, where would I have gone from there?

"But fortunately, I met the right man at the right time and he got me back playing football confidence-wise and fitness-wise."

A downwards step, perhaps, but the move to Pompey proved to herald the renaissance of Stevens’ career.

A positive starting season for Stevens was followed up by a promotion-winning campaign which sent Portsmouth into League One and saw the defender named on the league’s team of the year.

Sheffield United raided the south-coast side and took Stevens with them up another division as the Blades had just secured promotion to the second tier of English football.

Stevens was reborn in the Steel City under the tutelage of former Blade Chris Wilder, a journeyman professional who has turned his boyhood club around since taking over at the beginning of the 2016-17 season.

A solid first season in the Championship, the Blades looked like they would secure a play-off place, before fading during the final stretch.

Stevens was now established as first choice with the Yorkshire side and Wilder was using the former Hoops’ best attribute, his gifted left foot, to maximum effect, playing the Dubliner in the left wing-back role.

Eventually, international recognition arrived in March of this year and an international debut followed when Stevens came on as a substitute in the friendly against the USA in June before making his first start for his country in the recent friendly encounter in Poland, which finished 1-1.

International recognition came seven years after his move from Shamrock Rovers

Back in Sheffield and the Blades are currently riding high in the Championship, top of the table as Christmas approaches and in prime position to challenge for a Premier League place.

A mirror-image of Matt Doherty and set to emulate Wolves’ last season perhaps, Stevens has remained in control of that left wing-back position and surely that has been part of the equation that has led Martin O’Neill to hint at utilising a back three and two wing-backs against Denmark on Saturday.

"I know how to play the position," said Stevens.

Words which will resonate well around the corridors of power in this Ireland set-up as the manager always emphasises that his players know their jobs on the pitch.

"It benefits me but I have also played a lot at left-back as well throughout my career so I am comfortable playing both.

"But obviously wing-back is where I have played the most consistently over the last two years."

Stevens must wait until Saturday afternoon to find out whether he gets the nod from the manager, but the 28-year-old is ready to seize the opportunity should it present itself.

"It's a chance for all of us - all the new boys, anyway – to make a real name for ourselves and be established as a Republic of Ireland international.

"I'd like to think he has the trust in me to go out there and play.

"At wing-back, you have got to do the attacking, but most importantly you are a defender, so you have got to be able to defend.

"I believe in my defensive abilities and I would like to think that he has that trust."