Barnsley: Jay McEveley interview

Most footballers have their ups and downs, but few to the extent of Jay McEveley – playing alongside Wayne Rooney as a teenager and then a decade on having his heart stop on an hospital operating table.

Even so, it's all in the past in the defender's book, with McEveley relishing a "fresh start" at new club Barnsley.

The world appeared the Liverpudlian's oyster as a teenager after he rubbed shoulders with Rooney at Everton and then emerged as a potential star in his own right at next club Blackburn Rovers.

Twenty-seven appearances came for Rovers, including 18 in the Premier League, but it was also at Ewood Park where the defender's scrapes began.

The youngster's tackle left Liverpool's Djibril Ciss with a broken leg and he was also involved in injuries to Hakan Skr and Mark Delaney.

Injuries then followed McEveley himself following his switch to Derby County, but none more serious than the fractured cheekbone last year which led to an operation during which the Liverpudlian's heart stopped for two minutes.

Thankfully, the 6ft 1in ace lives to tell the tale – transferred to intensive care and eventually recovering after his heart was successfully re-started.

But while McEveley thanks his lucky stars for his recovery, it is now his move to Barnsley that's on his mind. And in the book of the 25-year-old, it is a chapter he cannot wait to get started.

Reflecting on the incredible topsy-turvy nature of his career thus far,

McEveley told Yorkshire Sport: "It's been ups and downs and there have been highs and lows.

"But that's part and parcel of everyone's career and so everything that's gone on at Derby and at Blackburn, that's gone now and it's a

fresh start for me.

"I'm just looking forward to hopefully staying fit, playing week in, week out, and just doing something with this team which I think we can do."

Looking back on his heart-stopping nightmare of last year, he added: "Things like that make you realise that football is only a job and it puts things into perspective in the fact that I might not have been here.

"But I got the all-clear on that and I don't think about it now. I just want to go and play football."

The lion's share of McEveley's football has come at Derby for whom he signed for back in January 2007 after leaving first professional club Blackburn.

The left-back tasted promotion to the Premiership with the Rams and

played 101 games in three-and-a-half years there, but he is adamant it was time for pastures new, with the Merseyside man's contract expiring

during the summer.

In came Mark Robins and Barnsley, with McEveley stressing that adapting to life at Oakwell has been a piece of cake.

"I've settled in well," he said. "They are a great bunch of lads, the manager has told me what he wants to do with the team and I buy into that.

"My first impressions are good ones and I'm happy.

"I knew it was time to move on from Derby as I was there for three- and-a-half years and it's been easy coming here.

"I knew Liam Dickinson, I knew Andy Gray but all the lads have made me feel welcome and it's been brilliant.

"There's a few new other faces which makes it easier as well and the whole dressing room has changed. There have been no problems at all."

No problems either on the relocation front, McEveley choosing not to move from his family home in Merseyside with his wife and six-month old baby in mind.

Instead, the former Blackburn star is renting a property in South Yorkshire and commuting back when time allows.

"I'm not moving as I'm renting an apartment in the city centre," revealed McEveley. "I can stay there and then on my days off get back to Liverpool as it's not far so I can get back to the family and the house.

"It's not too bad and I don't want to be up-rooting the missus and the baby and that so it's all right."

The forthcoming away clashes at Burnley and Preston in particular will have McEveley closer to his family and his roots but on the football front, life at Oakwell already feels like home.

The new Tyke has been highly impressed with manager Robins and his team of backroom staff.

"He's good and he's got a great staff behind him as well," said McEveley.

"The staff are quality, they all want to talk to you, they all know what they want.

"The players want to play for the manager and we are all working towards the same goal which is great."

Believe the bookies and the most likely goal is in merely avoiding relegation but McEveley's side have enjoyed a fine pre-season including victories against Huddersfield, Scunthorpe and Sheffield Wednesday. And

McEveley sees no reason why his Reds should not dare to dream.

"Hopefully we can surprise a few people," he said. "You see people are

predicting us to struggle and that this season but I see it the

opposite way.

"We've got the set-up, we've got the players and we've got the quality – we've shown in pre-season it is there – so I don't see why we can't go on and do something in this league.

"I'm hoping we can carry the pre-season form on into the league and get

a good run going."

Another high on the McEveley rollercoaster is certainly due.