Doncaster Rovers: Ben Whiteman full of praise for role Steve Evans played in his career
For many Steve Evans is a divisive figure but for Ben Whiteman he is a man to whom he feels indebted.
Evans was the boss at Mansfield Town who took Whiteman on loan from Sheffield United for a spell which brought seven goals in 23 appearances.
Beyond those simple stats, Whiteman looks back on the loan as a move which kickstarted his career in earnest.
The following season he joined Doncaster Rovers, initially on loan before making the switch from Bramall Lane permanent, and he has shown remarkable progression since.
So he will greet Evans with a warm embrace when reunited with his former boss, who is currently in charge of Sunday’s FA Cup opponents Gillingham.
“Going into Mansfield, looking back now it was pretty much make or break for me,” Whiteman said.
“I had a year left at Sheffield United and I wasn’t going to play in that team.
“I accepted that and it was just a chance for me to go out and impress and luckily I did that at Mansfield.
“I’ve said it before that I can’t thank Steve any more for that.”
Evans is well known as a fiery character alongside long time assistant Paul Raynor and Whiteman sees the benefit of experiencing such an approach as a player under the pair.
“I think it was the old-school approach really,” he said.
“I was in a men’s dressing room at Sheffield United but it was a case of just going in there to play.
“You have to learn about yourself as you’re taken to different places. League Two is very direct.
“It was learning that other side of the game – how to be nasty, when to play it down.
“It was going to different stadiums. I remember playing here in a really tough game.
“Steve and Rayns were really good for me. Letting me play my own game.
“I scored a few goals so it was a big step for me in my career.”
Working with Evans and Raynor makes being on the receiving end of a verbal barrage almost an inevitability.
And Whiteman said he did not escape the hairdryer treatment himself – not that he is complaining.
“I think they are reknowned for that,” he said.
“I had a few run ins with them both.
“But you need that. It sounds a bit old-school but that is what I needed.
“It made me a man really.”