Bradford City: I learned to play football the hard way, says Egan (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford City: Gaelic football taught me how to defend, says Sunderland loanee John Egan
John Egan believes Gaelic football has made him a natural centre half.
City’s on-loan Sunderland defender is still trying to carve out a career and make a name for himself.
But his late father, also called John, was one of the most famous players in Ireland’s traditional sport.
John Egan senior, nicknamed the Machine, was a member of the County Kerry team that swept all before them in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Tragically he died earlier this year.
His son could have followed in his footsteps but opted instead to try his luck with football. And he believes that grounding in the 15-a-side game is a definite advantage when it comes to defending.
Egan said: “You’re going up catching balls high above your head and you learn to use your body all the time shouldering people. It’s a natural progression.
“A lot of the players who come through academies are big but they don’t know how to use it. I think Gaelic football and hurling teaches you a lot in how best to do that.
“It’s great training for every centre half. I love the physical side of the game; the more physical the better.
“I played all the way until I left for England and it was a toss-up between Gaelic football and soccer.
“Obviously I chose to come over here to pursue a professional career because you can’t do that in Gaelic football. That had a part to play in it.”
Tuesday’s debut against Chesterfield was only Egan’s fourth senior outing after loan spells with Crystal Palace and Sheffield United last season. Working regularly under academy boss Kevin Ball, another centre half, at Sunderland has improved his game but Egan could not wait to get back out into the hurly-burly of first-team action.
He added: “Every player wants to be involved at a first-team level. Obviously chances are limited at Sunderland so I’ve got to look elsewhere.
“Reserves is good and we’ve been doing well in the new under-21 league but I just want to play at a first-team level. Bradford came in and I was more than happy to come down.
“I enjoyed Sheffield United, although unfortunately I didn’t play as much as I would have liked but that’s football. I liked working with Danny Wilson and it was a good experience.
“I don’t think there’s much difference between League One and Two. But to be fair it doesn’t really matter what division you are in if you’re playing football and getting your name out there.
“People are coming to watch you every week so you’re showing them what you can do. Being part of a first-team set-up is brilliant for any young player.”
Egan had only been with City for one proper training session before the Chesterfield game, when he played his part in the clean sheet.
He said: “It helped to break the ice with the lads with the first game coming so early. I’m happy with how it went and hopefully I can keep getting better.
“The more games the better so I can show people my ability and get stronger as each one goes on.”
Meanwhile, City will be launching an early-bird scheme for season tickets from next Monday.
Details will be revealed nearer the time but director of operations David Baldwin said: “This is the best deal you are going to get.”
Prices have historically jumped by around £50 when tickets are put back on sale around March. It is thought there is no plan for any flexi-cards at this point.