Born and raised in Wicklow and just breaking into the UCD senior team, in 2017 Simon Power couldn’t have dreamed of the situation he’d be in just two years down the line.
“It’s mental really,” began Power.
“Me of all people, just a normal lad, an Irish born lad, born and raised in Wicklow to be playing football in Holland I never would’ve imagined growing up that I’d be in this situation so I almost take it for granted a little bit.
“It goes to show that I’m very lucky to be in the situation and I need to make it count a bit.”
At 20-years of age, Power is currently on loan at Dutch First Division side FC Dordrecht, from his parent club Norwich City. One of only a small number of Irish prospects plying their trade in mainland Europe.
Power joined Dordrecht on loan in January in a bid to gain first team experience and he has already been making waves at his new club.
The winger made his first professional start against Jong Ajax a couple of weeks ago and grabbed a goal and the man of the match award in their 3-3 draw, a performance that has rightly garnered a lot of attention in his home country.
“It was the first game that I started,” Power told Pundit Arena.
“The game before that we played Jong PSV and I came on and played 30 minutes and seemed to impress so that obviously rang some bells for the manager and he ended up starting me against Ajax II.
“I knew that I had to make an impression it was my first game, playing at home on my professional debut it was a big occasion. I just seemed to step up to the plate and put in a Man of the Match performance and in the end, I was delighted with it.”
Power signed for Norwich City from UCD in January 2018 and is very highly rated at Carrow Road, having starred for their U23s this season.
At 20 years of age, he understood that to continue his quick progression as a player he needed first team experience and knew January was the right time to leave Carrow Road on loan.
What he did not anticipate however was the unusual destination.
“It’s an unusual move I suppose,” admitted Power.
“When I found out initially I was shocked. I had been thinking about going on loan but I thought it would just be to a League One or League Two or National League side in England but there was two Norwich players playing in Holland this season and last season.
“Todd Cantwell, who is playing with the senior team now, he was with Fortuna Sittard who are also in the First Division here and he did really well and starts every game for Norwich now.
“There was also Savvas Mourgos who was at the team I’m at now.
“He joined in the summer but tore his cruciate so he’s out for the rest of the year now. I think that’s how it came about, with how Savvas was doing and the feedback he got because he was doing really well at the time.
“They could feel like I’ll be the next guy to go over and see how I get on.”
As Power mentioned he had expected a move to a lower league English club. Such is the norm with so many youngsters making their way at a big club like Norwich.
For many young Irish players especially, the idea of a move to continental Europe can often be, for want of a better word, a foreign concept.
Power is one of only a small handful of Irish eligible players like Ryan Nolan, Connor Ronan and Ryan Johansson who play their football outside of the UK and Ireland.
As someone who is beginning to get settled in Holland, would Power recommend it as a destination for budding young Irish prospects to hone their craft?
“I’d definitely recommend it so far anyway,” he admitted.
“I’m obviously here for a reason. The football here is really good and it’s a step up.
“Irish lads should definitely explore other cultures and different types of football in and around Europe because I feel like I’ve already improved in the six or so weeks I’ve been here now.
“Just even with the training, Dutch football is just so technical and that’s the area of my game that I would’ve said I needed to improve on and I think I already have.
“If more Irish lads can get out and play in places like Holland it would definitely benefit them and it would be great to see that happen in the future. “
Power has started twice and appeared off the bench twice during his short spell in the Eerste Divisie, the second tier of Dutch football.
The 20-year old recognises how vital first-team football is at this stage of his career, not just for his development but for his opportunities at international level.
The Greystones native has appeared at U18s and U19s level for the Boys in Green and now has his sights firmly set on breaking into Stephen Kenny’s U21s squad ahead of their European qualifiers in March.
The new U21s boss even namedropped Power as one of a handful of talents overseas that he would be scouting, with the winger feeling that their shared League of Ireland background could work in his favour.
“I’m definitely looking to be a part of the U21s. I’ve represented Ireland at U18s and U19s level and there’s no better feeling to be honest. I can’t see why not.
“Obviously Stephen Kenny has been appointed now and he has a background in the League of Ireland and so do I so that could help me get into the team but I just need to keep playing well and keep playing regular football here in Holland and hopefully I can get into that U21s squad because that is a big aim of mine.
“It’s a step closer to the senior squad which is the ultimate goal. That would be a dream come true. I set out small milestones and this is one of them for sure to make that 21s.”
Power’s outlook is a refreshing one. Setting small milestones and trying to achieve them. The 20-year old can class his deserved recognition for his tremendous debut display as another target set if you will.
His rise through the ranks has been a steady progression, but one that he felt occurred almost under the radar, something that makes even the smallest bit of recognition a huge boost in his eyes.
“It was fantastic to get the recognition back home becasue growing up I feel like I didn’t really get any recognition.”
“I was a good footballer growing up but it wasn’t until I was 17 or 18 that I started to first get a bit of recognition and that’s when I got my first international cap for Ireland.
“From there things just seemed to kick on and I got that move to Norwich which was a dream come true because I always wanted to play football in England and now I’m playing in Holland which is bizarre!”