The League of Ireland has enjoyed a number of talented foreign imports over the years, so Tom O’Connor decided to choose his ‘Foreign Legion XI’.
Every LOI club has their own homegrown legend who grew up within a stone’s throw of the ground, joined the club as a schoolboy and supported from the terraces before making the step up to the first team and subsequently became adored for years on end by the very fans they stood beside.
However, sometimes a player arrives at an LOI club with no previous connections, even to Ireland itself, and becomes an object of worship. Here Pundit Arena’s Tom O’Connor takes a look at the Top ‘Foreign’ Legends.
Goalkeeper: Steve Williams
In goals, Steve Williams. The Welsh custodian landed on these shores after being released by Cardiff City. He was hugely successful during spells at Shels, Bray, Drogheda , Sporting Fingal and Dundalk where he now works as a goalkeeping coach.
His displays during Shels’ European run really marked him out as one of the top keepers in Ireland and he won the PFAI Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2003 as well as 5 Premier Divisions and 1 FAI Cup medal all with Shelbourne.
Defence: Dave Rogers, Jamie Harris, Dan Murray
The defence is made up of two more ex Shels’ players in Liverpudlian Dave Rogers and ex-Swansea City player Jamie Harris. Rogers signed from Dutch side Cambuur and was a tough, no nonsense defender who- after a very successful spell at Shelbourne winning the league three times- joined several Irish clubs before retiring at Bohemians in 2012.
Welshman Harris, similarly picked up honours at Tolka Park- winning the league in 2003, 2004 and 2006 after signing from St Pat’s in 2003- before landing a move to Scottish club Dunfermline who were managed by Stephen Kenny at the time.
The third member of the defence is a bona fide Cork City legend. Dan Murray landed at Turner’s Cross fresh from Peterborough United in 2002 and, apart from a short spell with Shamrock Rovers, he has been adored by the Leeside faithful ever since. His legendary status has been further added to this year with his late header versus Shamrock Rovers in September helping John Caulfield’s men pick up a very valuable three points in their quest for the title.
Midfield: Mark Rutherford, Joseph Ndo, Romauld Boco, Faz Kuduzovic, Danny Ventre
Mark Rutherford was one of the best players in the league during the 1990’s and his 7 titles (3 leagues and 4 FAI Cups) add weight to this claim. Most of his success came at Bohemians and Shelbourne, while he also spent time at Shamrock Rovers, St Pat’s and Longford Town.
Joseph Ndo needs no introduction to LOI followers, the man is a legend among many supporters not just those of the clubs he has played for. His medal haul is outstanding- winning the league at Shels (twice), Bohs, and Sligo as well as being voted Player of the Year in 2006.
Alongside Ndo is his former Sligo Rovers team mate Romauld Boco. Paul Cook signed the versatile Benin international for the Bit O’ Red in 2008 and he ended up playing over 80 times during 3 different spells. He may not have been in the league as long as many of the others in this team but definitely made his mark- winning both the FAI and League Cup in 2010. Indeed, Cook has recently signed Boco again, this time at Chesterfield.
Complementing this trio is a man revered in both the Sheds of Oriel Park and Turner’s Cross. Faz Kuduzovic signed for First Division Sligo Rovers in 2005, helping them gain promotion before becoming their top scorer the following season. He joined Drogheda in 2008, before spending a season each at Cork City and Dundalk respectively. A tricky left footed attacking midfielder, he now plays in Germany for Eintracht Trier.
The fifth member of the midfield is Danny Ventre. The tough tackling current Derry City midfielder racked up almost 200 appearances at Sligo Rovers, helping them to 5 major titles (1 league, 3 FAI Cups and a League Cup) He landed at The Showgrounds from Accrington Stanley in 2007 and was captain of Rovers when they won the title in 2012. While he departed the Showgrounds in less than favourable circumstances, he is still one of their most successful players.
Attack: Gary Twigg, Danny North
The first striker on the team is Gary Twigg. In less than 120 games, he scored over 80 goals for Shamrock Rovers. Signed from Brechin City in 2009, the Scotsman proved himself to be one of the league’s most deadly marksmen racking up 24 goals in 2009 as well as winning Player of the Year. He won the league twice with Shamrock Rovers as well as the 2011 Setanta Cup. He signed for Portadown in October 2012 and has continued his prolific scoring record.
Alongside Twigg is Danny North. North signed for St Patrick’s Athletic from Alfreton Town in 2010 and is currently averaging more than a goal every 2 games for Sligo Rovers. (24 goals in 46 games) Maybe a little early to be calling him a legend at The Showgrounds in terms of games played but his performance in the 2013 FAI Cup final has certainly endeared him greatly to the Rovers faithful.
Some players who were just edged out include Peter Cherrie, Ryan Guy, Mindaugus Kalonas and Mikko Vilmunen. If you feel I’m missing out anyone from recent history please add your comments below or, indeed, if you fancy winding the clock back and compiling an all time ‘Foreign’ XI it would be great to hear from you.
Tom O’Connor, Pundit Arena.
Read More About: bohemians football club, cork city, dan murray, danny north, Danny Ventre, derry city fc, dundalk fc, joseph ndo, LOI Premier Division, Shamrock Rovers, shelbourne fc, Sligo Rovers, Steve Wiliiams, Top Story