United will be more than pleased to have got their man now though, the 27-year old midfield enforcer having made 15 starts, plus two as a substitute for the Blues in a 93-day loan spell from Derby that ended in early December.
However long the negotiations took a deal always looked on the cards though with Paul staying at Brunton Park for training as he waited patiently for the January transfer window to open. Coincidentally enough, the Rams playmaker's first game on loan was in the home draw against Northampton in early September while his debut as a fully fledged Blue is likely come in the return fixture at Northampton in nine days time.
Newcastle-born Thirlwell started his career in the North-East with Sunderland in August 1997 where he earned international honours for the England under-21 team, the 27-year old also being in the same youth scheme as current Blue Chris Lumsdon and ex-Carlisle man Michael Bridges.
Thirlwell made 66 appearances for the Black Cats, plus 26 as a used substitute, and also had a two-month loan spell at Swindon Town as a 20-year old in late 1999, before joining Sheffield United in the summer of 2004 after spending seven years on Wearside.
He then moved down to the East Midlands for the start of 2005-06 season, initially joining Derby County from the Blades, who he made 28 starts for, initally on loan in a move which was later made permanent, so he could play in the Rams' opening game of the campaign, a 1-1 draw at home to Brighton. Paul has made 17 starts, plus six as a used substitute for the Pride Park club, the last of those games in the first eleven coming in a 2-2 local derby draw at Leicester City back on February the 14th 2006.
First Team Transfers 2006-07 : Click here