Doncaster Rovers: Billy Sharp interview

Fired-up Billy Sharp admits he was spurred on to silence the boo-boys in Doncaster Rovers' high-octane Bank Holiday Monday derby at boyhood club Sheffield United.

The Bramall Lane fixture was always destined to be a momentous one for striker Sharp, who left the Blades for Rovers in the close season following a hugely-successful loan stint at the Keepmoat Stadium last term – when he saw his name back in lights after a wretched "second coming" at United.

Sharp, who missed out on playing at United last season under the terms of his loan agreement, was actually suffering from a slight bug ahead of Monday's game, although you suspect wild horses wouldn't have stopped him from lining up against his former club at the Lane.

The Sheffielder had placed a big red circle around the reunion date of January 3, although the goal poacher was intent on not overdoing it on the celebratory front if he found the net.

The reverse fixture at the Keepmoat in October had also proved a considerable one for Sharp, who to his credit refused to celebrate his strike shortly before the break in the 2-0 home win over his old club.

The Blades visiting contingent paid him back in kind that day, actually offering him generous applause when he came off just a few minutes later due to a hamstring injury – with many of the view that the decision to loan him out to Doncaster last term and effectively freeze him out was one of the major mistakes of the Kevin Blackwell era.

Fast forward to Monday and the occasion proved a tad more spicier for Sharp on the stage where he dreamt of making a name for himself.

After escaping the jeers back in the autumn, Sharp – who switched to Rovers in a deal that will eventually be worth 1.1m – was given the bird by Blades supporters, who decided to boo him after he netted in the 39th minute in front of the Kop, with the strike promptly ruled out for offside.

The actions of some sections of the crowd riled Sharp a bit, but the striker – who started his career with United as a trainee before switching to Scunthorpe United – decided not to get mad, but get even – with his second half double in the space of eight minutes in front of the massed Rovers contingent more than ample payback.

After intending not to celebrate, Sharp did let out some pent-up emotion following his treatment, but made sure his celebrations were exclusively reserved for the visiting supporters in the John Street stand.

The heckling continued with the 25-year-old copping a fair few more boos when he was substituted in the 89th minute.

And while Sharp insists he was at a loss to understand the boos from Blades supporters, he says his conscience is clear and that he didn't overstep the mark on the celebratory front.

Sharp, who went into double figures with his brace at the Blades, told the YEP: "I got a bit of stick from their fans, but it's gone now, it's not a problem with me.

"They started chanting a few things towards me and it spurred me on a bit.

"I wasn't celebrating in front of their fans, but in front of ours and I don't see anything wrong with what I did. I didn't go over the top.

"I didn't even celebrate when I scored in the first game (at Doncaster).

"I scored a disallowed goal at the Kop end and didn't celebrate in front of them then. But from then on, they gave me a bit of abuse.

"I think when I scored, the home fans thought I was waving at them, but I was waving at my mum and dad in their box in the United end. Because of that, I got a little bit of stick. But they don't know the real story.

"I'm a striker and scoring goals is part of the job. I don't think I overdid it with the celebrations at all."

"Sharp's double looked like clinching a famous win and a second on the trot at Bramall Lane for Rovers, despite the odds being stacked against them after defender Denis Souza received his marching orders following his second yellow card in the 58th minute.

But the never-say-die hosts, in lifelong Blade Micky Adams' first match in charge, staged a miraculous late rally to chisel out a 2-2 draw after being 2-0 down with four minutes to go, with Rob Kozluk's leveller arriving in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

It failed to seal a second double in the space of three days for play-off chasing Rovers following a comfortable victory over Sharp's old club Scunthorpe on New Year's Day.

Looking at the Christmas and new year programme, Sharp said: "We deserved more, but it was not to be.

"I felt that we deserved it (victory) on Monday. With 10 men, I thought that we were the better team.

"Having said that, at 0-0 and having just gone down to 10 men, I think if someone had said that we'd end up drawing, we'd have taken that.

"Results like that could cost us, but we've still got a chance to keep our run going and us being in the play-offs could come down to how we do with the matches that were postponed (Derby County, Barnsley and Ipswich Town)."

Hailing the performance of his attacking talisman on Monday, Rovers boss Sean O'Driscoll said: "When Billy gets the bit between his teeth, he is a handful.

"He had a virus but if he plays like that, he is a threat and when he is a threat, he scores goals.

"He is still young and, unfortunately, he went to Sheffield and didn't feel he did as well as he should.

"There is still room for improvement and he knows that. He wants to play in the Premier Division and he knows that he has to play well week-in, week-out to achieve that.

"He wasn't doing that at Sheffield – hence the move. But I think, deep down, he would love to play for Sheffield United."

Giuseppe Bellusci

Italian clubs vying for the signature of Leeds United’s Giuseppe Bellusci