Hull City's Stephen Quinn didn’t have to look far for perfect role model
AS THE third youngest of 15 children, Stephen Quinn did not need to look far for role models in what he glowingly calls a "good Catholic family."
Eight brothers and six sisters were around to mould his formative years growing up in Dublin, but it was the influence of one sibling in particular that has left an indelible mark.
Alan, seven years his senior, flew the family nest in 1997 to sign for a Sheffield Wednesday side firmly established in the Premier League.
An 11-year-old Stephen craved nothing other than to one day join his brother in the English professional ranks and by the summer of 2004 a childhood ambition would be fulfilled with a move to Sheffield United.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
Then came the twist. Within weeks of Stephen winning a youth contract at Bramall Lane, Alan would depart Wednesday to join his little brother across the Steel City at United.
There the pair would be team-mates for four years before Alan's eventual departure to Ipswich Town in 2008, and Hull City's Stephen will always cherish his older brother's guidance.
"We grew up on a council estate back in Dublin and every day after school you'd be out there kicking a ball," he told the Mail.
"I'd always be trying to pal around with my brothers but they thought I was too young to be involved.
"Alan left home to join Sheffield Wednesday when I was about 10 or 11 and once he did that I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I've always just tried to mirror what his career was.
"It was bizarre how we ended up being at Sheffield United together.
"Alan had been at Sheffield Wednesday and Neil Warnock took three lads from there when they were relegated. One of them was Alan. It was weird but brilliant for me."
At one stage, there was even three Quinns at Bramall Lane. The youngest brother of all, Keith, joined Alan and Stephen as an apprentice but failed to step out of their shadow before returning home to Ireland, where he now plays for Cork City.
Making a name for himself has never proved a problem for Stephen, however, and the landmark of 300 career appearances should be passed before this season is out.
"I only ever concentrated on myself," he said. "I knew Alan had enjoyed a good career, playing in the Premier League with Sheffield Wednesday, but I just wanted to make my own way.
"I've only ever wanted to make my own path in the game and I think I've done that."
Quinn's move to South Yorkshire offered the career path he longed for.
After earning a bright reputation with Dublin's famed Cherry Orchard Boys Club, whose alumni include full internationals Andy Reid and Keith Fahey, he was only too content to ditch his teenage contingency plans.
"I'd started working with my brothers on the building sites back at home, painting and decorating," he said.
"I knew exactly what path I wanted to go on after that and it was football all the way.
"I played for Cherry Orchard and I grew up in the same age group as Paul McShane. McShane was at St Joseph's and some of the games we had were brilliant battles.
"It's every young lad's dream in Ireland to catch the eye of one of the scouts. Thankfully, we both managed that and ended up here."
Quinn counts his blessings for all he has achieved in football, yet there is still one nagging irritation.
Unlike McShane and older brother Alan, a senior debut for the Republic of Ireland has so far eluded him.
At 26, there is still time to build upon his nine under-21s caps and the presence of Giovanni Trapattoni's scout Mick Martin for City's 2-1 win over Ipswich three weeks ago suggests he is edging closer to the senior squad.
The honour for now will fall on three of his City team-mates next week for Wednesday's friendly in Greece, with McShane joined by new arrivals Robbie Brady and David Meyler in Trapattoni's ranks.
And as if to rub it in, Quinn is booked on the same plane back to Dublin this evening following City's trip to Cardiff.
"I'm on the same flight back to visit my family so we'll have some fun in the airport," he said.
"I'm always thrilled to see people like Macca getting a call-up because the biggest ambition I have is to play for my country, I'd give my left arm to make that happen.
"I've made no qualms about wanting to make the senior squad and this is a great opportunity for me here if I can keep playing well. We're at the top end of the Championship with a good manager and playing good football.
"It's been a bit disheartening so far because that call-up has always eluded me. I'll just concentrate on my football with Hull and hope it comes.
"You should never be bitter in football. You get your luck and take your chances. Let's hope it comes around."
Quinn's decision to leave Bramall Lane in August owed much to his unfulfilled international ambitions and a promotion push in the Championship provides a far stronger platform to press his claims.
The midfielder's impact on the Tigers has been irresistible.
Twelve consecutive starts for Steve Bruce's men have already established him as one of City's prized assets in a midfield that buzzes with invention. With his incremental transfer fee from Sheffield United in mind, Quinn has so far come at a cost of £24,000.
Promotion is the unanimous target but another yardstick of City's progress will come at Cardiff City this afternoon as third hosts fourth.
The Tigers, bouncing after three consecutive wins, will attempt to call time on Cardiff's perfect run of seven straight home victories this season.
Something has to give and Quinn sees no reason why it should be City.
"Cardiff have got a big squad and brought some top quality players in," he said. "You'd expect them to have good home form and they've backed that up with a brilliant record there.
"It's always a tough place to go but as we've seen from them having a bit of a wobble in the last week, anyone is beatable in this league. It's the cliché of all clichés but it's true.
"If we get our passing game going, I don't see why we can't get a result."