Calum Butcher is no favourite of Dundee supporters – but the Dens faithful can thank him for sending latest signing Ryan Sweeney their way.
Dundee United’s midfield enforcer moved back to Tannadice in January 2019 after leaving Mansfield Town, where he had been a team-mate of the new Dark Blues defender.
Now the two former Stags have taken up stations on opposite sides of Sandeman Street and can look forward to some derby tussles in the Premiership this season.
And Sweeney has revealed Butcher’s “inside info” combined with a pitch from another former team-mate in Charlie Adam helped sell him on the move to Dens Park.
Though the defender admits he and Butcher may need to employ some subterfuge when meeting up in the city.
Sweeney said: “I knew bits and bobs about the place.
“I played with someone at Mansfield who plays down the road in Calum Butcher.
“I got in touch with him straight away and got a bit of inside information about the place.
“We might need balaclavas on when we meet in town!
“There was a lot attracted me to the move, the calibre of the games and being back in the Premiership there will be incredible games this year.”
Charlie Adam connection
As a youngster Sweeney was signed by Premier League Stoke City for £250,000 after impressing at AFC Wimbledon in League Two.
At that time the Potters boasted the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic, Wilfried Bony, Bojan, Peter Crouch and Shay Given.
A senior man in Mark Hughes’ side at the time was also current Dundee skipper Charlie Adam.
Though they never took to the field together at Stoke, Sweeney says boyhood Dee Adam was keen to get the former Republic of Ireland U/21 international up north to Dens Park.
“I know Chaz from Stoke, though I was more with the U/23s and would dip into first-team training,” Sweeney added.
“I’ve come across him a few times and it was good to be back training with him this week.
“He’s a top bloke off the park, he’ll help you out. Especially me moving my family up here.
“And you can see his quality on the park, he’s a brilliant player who’s had a brilliant career.
“I spoke to him about the move before I came up and he only had great things to say about Dundee.”
The Dark Blues are back in the top-flight once more after two seasons in the Championship and Sweeney says the draw of some mouth-watering fixtures at Dens Park was too much to turn down.
“When I came out of Mansfield, I hadn’t really thought about coming up to Scotland but as soon as I heard about the offer it really appealed to me,” the 24-year-old said.
— Dundee Football Club (@DundeeFC) June 22, 2021
“I’ve watched a lot of Scottish football and I think it’ll suit the way I play.
“The league is probably the strongest it’s been for a while.
“There are brilliant games in there, obviously Celtic and Rangers but we’re all looking forward to the derby.”
Play like Maldini?
Sweeney told Dundee’s club media he would “run through a brick wall” for his new club and re-iterated fans should expect to see some full-blooded defending from him this season.
Though, he admits he was careful not to set himself up for a fall by comparing his defensive talents to one of the greats of the game.
“When someone asks you to describe yourself as a player you aren’t going to say you play like Maldini!” he joked.
“But I pride myself on playing at 100% and being that player for the team.
“I think every team needs that.”