Updated: Oct 25, 2018
We are kicking things off this week with an exclusive interview with ex-Blades centre half and current Tampa Bay Rowdies Head Coach, Neill Collins.
We asked Neill a number of questions surrounding his time at the Lane which covered two separate stints, one on loan from Sunderland in 2006 where he made 2 appearances but more prominently when he signed for an undisclosed fee from rivals Leeds United in January 2011. He then went on to feature 177 times for the Blades chipping in with 12 goals over the course of his 5 year stay.
First of all thanks Neill, for taking the time to speak to us!
What is the memory that first sprung to mind prior to you signing for the Blades?
I had the pleasure of signing twice for the Blades. First time on loan from Sunderland I thought back to my first ever visit to Bramall Lane as part of the opposition. I was on the bench for Sunderland and while warming up I was in awe of the size of the Kop. I could just sense the tradition and history that surrounded the club. When the opportunity came to sign for the club I knew it was a fantastic opportunity and when you throw in the fact that my first match would be in the Sheffield derby there was no way I could turn it down.
What is your greatest memory as a Blade?
There were many great moments and I always tried to make the most of every game I played for the club but my favourite moment was definitely beating Charlton in the FA Cup quarter final. The atmosphere that day is exactly what football is all about. The noise when the second goal went in was phenomenal. At the end of the game while I was doing an interview the fans were belting out greasy chip bitty song the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up.
What was the low point of your time with Sheffield United?
It’s pretty well documented that my lowest point at Sheffield United was during Nigel Clough’s second year in charge. Not getting picked is part and parcel in the life of a professional footballer but the way I was subsequently treated while I was out the team left a real sour taste. Many people will have their own views but I genuinely think I could have helped the team, particularly late in the season when the manager chose to play people out of position as opposed to bringing me back. The worst thing about the whole episode was everyone suffered as we failed to get promotion.
The best player you played with during your time at Bramall Lane?
I was lucky to play with some very good players. I would love to see what heights Ched would have gone to had he not spent two years in jail. He was unplayable during the 11/12 season. By far and away the best player I played with was my centre back partner, Harry Maguire. I have been championing his talents for many years and now everyone can see why. He was a colossus at the back and on top of that, a great lad.
Have you followed the clubs progress since you left?
I follow the clubs progress intently and I am delighted to see the changes Chris Wilder has made. He is exactly what the club what had been crying out for. Someone to match the fans passion along with the wherewithal to win football matches. I watched the Derby game on Saturday and it brought back good memories watching the fans celebrate Bash’s equalizer. The game obviously ended in disappointment but I saw enough to see why the team are sitting 2nd in the table. To be fair to Wilder I think the job he has done is up there with anyone else in the world over the past couple of years.
Finally, how are things at the Rowdies?
Everything at the Rowdies is going well and I am enjoying the challenge of building a successful team for our fans. We are now in our off season and I am busy looking for players that I think can make us better for next season. The job is 24/7 but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Keep up to date and follow the progress of Neill's Rowdies over at; https://www.rowdiessoccer.com/
We have another feature interview with another former Blade, Darius Henderson.