Dunfermline Athletic

Dan Pybus First Interview

Friday, 2nd Jul 2021

“For me the style of play the manager wants to play, the way he wants to play, I just think that it will be brilliant.

In his first interview with the website Dan Pybus gave a great insight into his background and his ambitions. He began by explaining that he was at Sunderland from the age of nine until I was 19.

“The whole setup there was obviously brilliant they have a real good philosophy which applied to all young players on the pitch as well as your manners off the pitch. That helped me a lot, there were a lot of coaches there - Ged McNamee, Elliot Dickman and his brother Lewis Dickman, Wayne Walsh. Every coach at every age group, even the ones I didn’t have, were great.”

While at Sunderland Dan was capped five times for England at under 16 and under 17 level and he claimed it is a great experience to represent your country at any level.

“My age group went on to win the European championships at under 17 then the World Cup at under 19. I wasn’t in any of those squads but it just shows how strong my age group was and some of the players like Patrick Roberts went on to play for Celtic, Joe Gomez at Liverpool, the list is endless - Adam Armstrong, Lewis Cook, Dominic Solanke, Tammy Abraham, Johnjoe Kenny.

“To get 4 or 5 caps at any age group is an honour but when the team goes on to win major honours like that it is always more special.”

Was it a wrench to leave Sunderland with it being your local team?

“Yes, obviously it was disappointing to leave but I was fortunate enough to go straight to Bradford City. I was there for two years. It is another great club, a massive club, Stuart McCall was my manager and I learned a lot under him. It was my first real taste of first team football. I probably didn’t play as much as I would have liked but at that age I was still learning, developing and you are thrown in from boys football to men’s football. You have to grow up a lot and I really enjoyed my time there.”

The Englishman’s journey to arrive in Scotland to play for Queen of the South was vis Tønsberg in Norway. He continued:-

“When I left Bradford I ended up going over to Norway for three months of their season. Their season is a summer season and they finish at the end of October. I was unfortunate to pick up a little groin injury which meant when I came back I was injured and no one was going to take me.

“I ended up having surgery, it was a double hernia and I rehabbed myself for six months which was hard. There were times when I thought ‘this might be it, should I just give up and do something else?’

“But I have a good family and friends behind me who kept me going. I was fortunate enough to be given an opportunity at Queen of the South with Alan Johnston and Sandy Clark. I am very grateful for the opportunity they gave me and I had two good seasons there which I enjoyed. I needed it as well, I needed to play every week, grow up even though it is bit of a different style of play to what Dunfermline play but I want to show that I can play the style of play and my time at Sunderland wasn’t just a waste.

“At Sunderland I scored 16 in 24 games from midfield which on paper is a good statistic and then, for whatever reasons at Queens I played holding midfield and out wide sometimes, I played everywhere. It is men’s football now, it is not as easy as Academy football but I was a bit disappointed with myself and my goals return and maybe assists at Queens.

“My record at Queen of the South was dreadful. I went from setting records for goalscoring at Sunderland to one goal in 52 games. It is definitely something that I want to improve on. I am still only 23 so that is one of my aims this season, to get in the box create and score more goals. First of all I just want to help the team in any way possible to achieve the best this season.

“The only thing that I have heard from the gaffer is ‘we want to win the league’ and that is the mindset that you want. If you drum that mindset into players then that becomes the norm. It is a great mindset to have and I don’t see any reason why we can’t go and win the league this season.

“We have some great players in the squad. I have seen that first hand over the last week. Obviously I have played against them which wasn’t nice so it will be nice to have them in my team now. You see in training how good some of them really are.”

Of the Dunfermline squad only Iain Wilson was known to Dan, and that was from his time at Queens but the new man spoke to all at his former club contacts with Dunfermline connections making it an easy decision to agree to sign for the Pars:-

“It is a massive club and I spoke to a few boys who have been here. I lived with Faissal El Bakhtaoui who was here and he used to tell me how big they were. A few of the lads who have been here - Willie Gibson and Rhys McCabe - they all spoke so highly of the club and about how big it is.

“When the opportunity came to come and train here it was a no brainer and it was up to me then try and do the best I could and impress. I am really impressed by everything so far.”

As a visiting opponent at coming to somewhere like Dunfermline can take you aback said Dan:- “when you look at the pitch, the stadium, the amount of fans they get, you are struck by it.

“Last year I only managed two games against Dunfermline as I picked up a hamstring injury. I was on the bench the last time we played them but even with no fans in the stadium you realise just how big a club it is. When you play here when fans are in, the atmosphere is brilliant. It is a really intimidating place to come for an away team.”

Dunfermline boss Peter Grant has also experienced Dan as an opponent since over the last two season he has been in Queen of the South sides that have faced Alloa. Dan commented:-

“In football you never know who is watching and you never know what might happen so you always have to try and have the best game that you can no matter who you play.

“I have played against the manager quite a few times when he was manager of Alloa and I have always had a decent game. I think there was always some interest there but I was more than happy to come in and show what I could do.

“I took the risk, I came in and thankfully it has worked out well. I owe him for the opportunity that he has given me so I need to work hard every day in training and when I get that chance in a game I need to take it. I will always give 100%, that’s me in a nutshell, but I also want to come here and show that I’m more than just a runner. I want to show that I have quality on the ball.”

While Dan clearly impressed the manager, Peter Grant has also made an impact on the midfielder and his desire to play for him:-

“Since I came in on day one I wanted to show that I can play this type of football and I want to show what I’m about as well. It has been brilliant, it is total football and it is what you want to be involved in.

“The mindset of the gaffer, the coaches and the lads is just on another level. It is definitely something that you want to be part of.

“Dunfermline have always been a good team, always up there in the league, it is always a hard game. I have played against them a number of times now and always found it difficult.

“For me the style of play the manager wants to play, the way he wants to play, I just think that it will be brilliant. I really feel as though it is going to be a great season for the club on the pitch and off the pitch. Hopefully that comes true.

“Coming from Queen of the South you definitely see this as a step up. Queen of the South are a great club, I have nothing but respect for the club but obviously I want to progress in my career and I need to come here and show that I am more than good enough to play.

“As I say it is a step up and I have no god given right to walk into the team. I need to start on the training pitch and when I am fortunate enough to be given a chance I need to grab it with both hands and stay in the team.

“Training has been brilliant with Greg Shields and Steven Whittaker. They are two great coaches, they have been lovely with me and made me feel welcome. It is not just the gaffer it is obviously them as well, they are very involved and training is intense, it’s hard and at the minute we are playing quite a few games.

“Pre season is always difficult so hopefully the season can start sooner rather than later. The friendly against Civil Service Strollers was my first game in nine weeks but even then I had only started once in the last two and a half months of the season because I picked up a hamstring injury.

“To get through ninety minutes was tough but I like to keep myself fit when I am away from here. I’m a professional, that’s my job and I need to do that. At Tuesday night’s game it was roasting hot and it was a tougher game against Airdrie who had a really good season in League One last year.

“I know it was behind doors but for me you could really see by the way we want to play and the way we are playing, that we are only going to get better over time.

“At Queens it was high intensity, we were fighting for our lives every week. When you come here you want to win every game. You are going out there and give your all for however long that you are on the pitch whether that is 45, 60 or 90 minutes. It will be nice to pass the ball around and really play football. I am delighted to be a part of that now and it is up to me now to go and show what I can do.”

First competitive match for Dunfermline, and Dan he hopes, will be the Premier Sports Cup which kicks off on 10th July:-

“You want to win every game no matter what, you want to progress in the competition, you want to do well. People say that it can be used as a pre season cup but as players you go into every game wanting to win. Starting off against Partick Thistle we want a win and we want to do as well as possible.”

Dan Pybus on ParsTV

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