The motto of Caolan Lavery’s hometown is ‘Education, industry and progress.’
Three things which, the Red Deer native explained earlier this week, underpin his footballing career.
“I’m always trying to learn, I’ll always work hard and I’m always striving to get better,” he said. “It’s important to give everything and be the best you can be. Everytime I step onto the field, I give everything. Whether it’s a kickabout, a training session or an actual game.”
Lavery, speaking after his move to Sheffield United on Tuesday, was not making a sales pitch. But, having arrived at Bramall Lane from arch-rivals Sheffield Wednesday, the 23-year-old is understandably keen to win over any supporters sceptical his presence in Chris Wilder’s squad. And Lavery, as his journey to South Yorkshire demonstrates, is not afraid of a challenge.
“Where I’m from, in Alberta, Canada, pretty much everyone played ice hockey. But because both my parents are from Northern Ireland, it was always football for me. I was determined to try and make it so that meant I had to move away from home at a pretty young age. Looking back, though, it made me more mature and helped me grow up fast.”
Lavery, who signed a three year contract with United after deciding to leave Hillsborough last term, initially headed for Lurgan where, following a brief stint at Mid Ulster side Goodyear, he joined Ipswich Town’s development squad before entering Wednesday’s academy. After impressing on loan with Southend, Lavery made the first of 39 appearances for United’s neighbours against Burnley in 2013.
“I’ve haven’t done it the easy way,” he said. “I’ve had to make a lost of sacrifices to get to where I am now. I wouldn’t go so far to say that’s influenced (my character) or shaped me. But it certainly made me hungry because I was having to make my own way.”
After crossing the Atlantic as a teenager, Lavery has no fears about traversing the Steel City divide.
“I’m delighted to come here,” the former Canada youth international said. “I had other offers but, to be honest, this was the only one I had my heart set on. I’ve spoken to quite a few people about what it’s like at Bramall Lane and they’ve only got good things to say about the place.”
Lavery, who chose to represent Northern Ireland at under-19 and under-21 level, could make his debut for United at Gillingham on Sunday. The match is being broadcast live on television and, before parting company with Carlos Carvalhal’s side, the centre-forward demonstrated a sharp sense of occasion by scoring goals against neighbours Leeds and Rotherham.
“I like it when there’s a bit of pressure on,” Lavery said. “I think everyone should enjoy it and use it to try and bring to best out of them. Every game is important, you always try the same but, yes, some do just feel as if they’ve got a little bit more riding on them. Hopefully that’s not a habit I’m going to kick because every game here is huge.”