Stephen Mallon has officially decided to commit his international future to Northern Ireland.
While he represented Northern Ireland at U15 level, Stephen Mallon has played for the Republic of Ireland at U18, U19 and U21 in recent years.
But the Derry City winger, who is on loan from Sheffield United, has decided to reject the opportunity to progress in the Republic of Ireland set-up.
Mallon, 21, was informed that he had been called into the Republic’s U21 side over the weekend but the Belfast man is of the belief that a switch to Northern Ireland makes the most sense from a football standpoint.
Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny spoke to Mallon about his decision and expressed his disappointment but wished the player well in the next chapter of his career.
“I got a phone call today (Sunday) to say I am in the Ireland U21 squad but I’ve actually chosen to go to the north,” Mallon told the Derry Journal.
“It’s been going on for a long time. I haven’t just come up with it and made the decision within a week or whatever. It’s been thought out over a year. I’ve had chats with Stephen Kenny, Ian Baraclough and I spoke to Michael O’Neill about it when he was manager.
“I had a conversation with Stephen Kenny today and let him know I’ve made my decision. He said he was disappointed but wished me well.
“He knew it was a hard decision for me. It took me over a year to make and it wasn’t something which came lightly. It’s been a family decision.
“It’s more of a decision made with my head rather than my heart. I’ve grown up always wanting to play for Ireland but I feel switching to Northern Ireland is a good footballing move for me. That’s what I want to go ahead with. I’ve spoken to both Stephen Kenny and Ian Baraclough about it.”