What you need to know about the versatile Sheffield United star
Kean Bryan had to bide his time at Sheffield United, having joined the club in the summer of 2018.
He watched the Blades from afar gain promotion to the Premier League and had a stellar first season in the big time – before finally being thrown in the thick of the first-team action as Chris Wilder’s side suffered the most severe bout of the second season. syndrome that high flying has never seen.
In what has been a dark campaign for the Blades, Bryan helped provide a rare moment of joy, with a goal and a superb performance in their 2-1 win over Manchester United.
So just who is Kean Bryan? Here’s everything you need to know about the Sheffield United man in brief.
Bryan joined Manchester City academy at the age of 11 and rose through the ranks with the Citizens, having grown up around the corner from their training complex.
He was part of the City squad that reached the 2015 FA Youth Cup final, before ultimately losing to Chelsea on two legs.
Bryan’s youth-level teammates included Leicester’s Kelechi Iheanacho, Fulham defender Tosin Adarabioyo, RB Leipzig Loanie Angelino and former Swansea winger Bersant Celina.
As a product of an English football giant’s youth system, Bryan is unsurprisingly no stranger to a loan.
The 24-year-old has been on loan three times – twice to City and once to Sheffield United. However, each of his separate loan moves came within 25 miles of each other.
When it comes to relocating on loan, Bryan can’t stray far from the North West – and Greater Manchester to be exact. It was first Bury, then Oldham and finally Bolton.
The Sheffield United man just needs to practice his trade at Wigan, Salford and Rochdale (although he was sent off against Dale in 2016 so maybe the bridges were burned) and he will have played for all EFL teams in Greater Manchester.
Of his three loan spells, Bryan’s season at Boundary Park in 2017/18 has been particularly successful – despite the club’s relegation from League One.
He made 37 appearances for the Latics and was voted the club’s Young Player of the Season.
Bryan also found the net twice for Oldham – at home and away against Fleetwood – and both goals were absolute howlers. He folded into a stunner from the edge of the box in their 2-2 draw in September, before finding the top corner with a fabulous free-kick in his side’s 2-1 loss in December. Both goals were nominated for Oldham’s Goal of the Season award.
Sheffield United were considered to have clinched a true coup when they caught Bryan on a free transfer in 2018.
They beat Rangers to his signing, and the Scottish giants were initially seen as favorites to land youngster boss Steven Gerrard impressed with his performance for Oldham the previous season.
The move didn’t materialize and Bryan joined the Blades instead, missing the opportunity to work with one of his soccer idols.
Speaking of his admiration for the former Liverpool captain in 2015, Bryan said (via The Sun): “Not because of his football team – I wouldn’t say I’m the same player as him – but it’s the heart of the game and the heart of your club. “
Bryan really had to bide his time at Sheffield United, ending up behind Jack O’Connell in the Bramall Lane pecking order. It took the former Manchester City man 27 months to make his league debut for the club.
He spent most of his promotion campaign sidelined due to injury, and with Sheffield United flying high in the Premier League during the 2019/20 season, Bryan was loaned to Bolton in January. In contrast, the Trotters languished in the Ligue 1 relegation zone, a large points deduction weighing them down amid a myriad of financial woes as they tumbled to fourth.
“It was a tough time, I won’t turn away from it,” Bryan told The Star in December 2020.
“When I signed here I expected to play in the championship, so that was evicting me. I had to make a loan to play games and without disrespecting Bolton Wanderers, but that’s not the level I see myself playing. ”
The absence of O’Connell, Ethan Ampadu and Enda Stevens finally cleared Bryan’s route to Sheffield United’s first team, and he was propelled into the starting XI for the Blades’ clash with West Brom in November 2020 .
Bryan offers real versatility. He progressed through Manchester City as a box-to-box midfielder, before being converted to a center-half in his late teens.
The defender has served as both center-back and defensive midfielder at Oldham and Bolton, and was deployed as a left center-half in his first two top-flight appearances for Sheffield United. Playing the role of a seated midfielder really allows him to show off his passing range.
However, against Manchester United, Wilder chose to play Bryan as a left-back – a position he played to great effect.
Bryan has a child with his longtime partner and Coronation street actress Brooke Vincent. However, in an interview with Footy 258, Bryan admitted that the couple don’t actually watch the soap opera.
Bryan dedicated his first Premier League goal to their son, and David Flitcroft – who managed Bryan to Bury and Bolton – told Athletic fatherhood and family are a big motivator for the defender.
“I talked to Kean a lot about making the family proud,” Flitcroft said. “I’m pretty sure making his Premier League debut will have done it.”