Life of a loanee footballer: Aston Villa goalkeeper Jed Steer talks travelling, initiations and the boot of his car

Ask Aston Villa goalkeeper Jed Steer where he calls home and his answer isn’t as straight forward as you might expect.

The boot of his car, however, offers more of an indication of his lifestyle.

That’s where you’ll find an assortment of travel bags, change of clothes and grubby training kit, all clues to the 23-year-old’s nomadic lifestyle.

“It’s fair to say my car boot is probably one of the untidiest you’ll see but it’s a bit of a travelling wardrobe to be fair,” said Steer, who has spent most of this season on loan at Championship club Huddersfield Town.

Steer is tipped for a bright future in the game, but he knows only too well young goalkeepers often have to bide their time before getting an opportunity to show what they can do.

Rather than settle for a place on the substitutes’ bench at Villa Park, the former England Under-19 keeper would much rather play, even if it means dropping down a level, or two, in search of regular first team action.

Steer has jumped at the chance of spells on loan at lower league clubs, spending time at Cambridge United, Doncaster Rovers, Yeovil Town and more recently Huddersfield, where he played 38 games this season.

The experience is invaluable for young players, although Steer admitted it can take time to adapt to new surroundings.

He said: “Getting to know a new set of players is like your first day of school again, especially when you introduce yourself to everybody.

“Usually that includes an initiation — a song on your first away game!

“You’ve also got to get to know a different manager, as well as becoming familiar with how he wants you to play. Getting to know the place is also a high priority when you join a new side.”

Steer moved on loan to Huddersfield last September, in what was originally short-term emergency cover for the Terriers’ injured regular goalkeeper Joe Murphy.

Steer promptly produced a series of impressive displays, including a Man-of-the-Match performance against promotion-chasing Derby County, after which Huddersfield offered to extend his loan to the end of this season.

The keeper was delighted at the opportunity to test himself against Championship opposition on a weekly basis.

“Going on loan to Huddersfield Town was a step up from League One where I played last season so that’s a nice bit of progression for me,” he said.

“In terms of the experience of playing in the Championship, I’ve got used to playing in front of larger crowds and, with it being a league higher, there’s a little extra pressure as you know you’re bound to get punished for any mistakes.”

While the loanee system offers players a welcome chance to hone their skills, it can also be a lonely existence.

Typically, it means lots of travelling, often living out of hotels. But Steer feels it’s a small price to pay for the chance to play regular first team football.

He said: “It’s all part and parcel of going out on loan. The quicker you can get used to changes, the better.

“A lot of the time you won’t be the only loanee player at the club so it’s great to bond with other players who might be in the same situation and even the same hotel.”

Norfolk born Steer joined his local club Norwich City when he was just ten, starting with the club’s academy before rising through the ranks to sign his first professional contract as a highly-rated 16-year-old.

During his early years with the Canaries, Steer was understudy to Fraser Forster and John Ruddy, both of whom went on to earn full England caps.

Steer is now hoping to follow in their footsteps, having already gained international honours playing for England Under 16s, 17s and 19s.

“Playing with Fraser and John showed me as a young goalkeeper that, with hard work, dedication and strong performances you can go on and represent your country. Consistency in your performances will get recognised,” he said.

Former Norwich manager Paul Lambert gave Steer his first team debut in an FA Cup third round tie against West Brom in 2012.

The young keeper made headlines with a series of excellent saves, helping the Canaries to a 2-1 victory and a place in the fourth round.

It was little wonder then, when Lambert moved to Aston Villa in 2012 he swooped in to bring the Steers to the Midlands to join Brad Guzan and Shay Given at the club.

“They’ve both given me hints and tips in training,” said Steer.

“When I made my debut for Aston Villa Shay was very talkative and helpful before the game. Brad was similar, he was very supportive and, being a young goalie, it’s brilliant looking up to and learning off professionals like them.”

As for his thoughts on his parent club’s recent demise, Steer admitted it’s a huge blow for the side to be relegated from the Premier League for the first time since its introduction in 1992-93.

He said: “Obviously everyone is gutted that the club has been relegated but we are confident of going back up next season and looking forward to impressing the new manager when he comes in.”

As for now, Steer is planning to spend the summer break catching up with friends and family before he returns to training ahead of the 2016-17 season.

“It’s been a really good season which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed but I’m looking forward to being back home, seeing friends and family and working hard to be fit come pre-season, ready to hit the ground running!”

Image courtesy of Aston Villa FC via YouTube, with thanks

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