Daryl Murphy of Ipswich Town and Shane Dineen, formerly of Leicester City caught up with David Pheasey to discuss some of the issues for footballers when moving away from home at such young age, such as homesickness and loneliness.
In recent years, Ireland has become a factory for producing young talented players, who move across to the UK to further their footballing development. While getting across the Irish Sea for a chance at the big time is difficult enough, it can be hard for these youngsters to pick up sticks, and leave everything they know.
From dealing with homesickness, transfers, rejection and loneliness, it’s no bed of roses for players trying to make it. Irish international Daryl Murphy and former Leicester City defender Shane Dineen, both know just how hard it is to manufacture a break across the water, and just how hard it is to make it work when one does get there.
Growing up in Waterford city, Irish international Daryl Murphy moved to England at the age of just 17. Coming from a small Irish city, Murphy was dropped into London in the early 2000s. For most of us, moving to a different city would be hard, so one can only imagine what it was like for 17-year-old Murphy.
“Going over to England at such a young age was a big shock to the system. Coming from Waterford, I was surrounded by family and friends, I was in my comfort zone.
“An hour later I was in the middle of a big city, not knowing anyone, or anything. It was very tough. Homesickness was a big issue for me over there.” Daryl said.
Homesickness is something Murphy’s fellow Waterford native, Shane Dineen struggled with when he moved to Glasgow to ply his trade at Celtic.
“Saying goodbye to everyone and not knowing when you would see them again was tough. I was only 15, so as you can imagine still very immature but had to grow up very quickly. The first few weeks were tough. I missed my family and friends so much. There were times when I wanted to come home, but I knew if it was to work out I would have to stick it out,” Shane said.
Aside from leaving behind family and friends, players need to find their way around new cities, make new friends, and rebuild their social lives. While moving to London was hard for Murphy, his loan spell at Harrow Borrow allowed him to build relationships with people across the UK as well as further develop his career.
“I knew some of the lads at Harrow before I moved down. It was a good move for me in that I was a little older, and they really helped me settle. The older players used to bring us out and help us settle it. It was great.
“Up in Luton, I was lonely. I didn’t know anyone, or where anything was. It was really hard, coming from Waterford, to being in a big city on your own,” Murphy continued.
Murphy, who now plays with Championship side Ipswich Town, says players nowadays are treated a lot better when they move over to play. When the Waterford man moved to Luton he was alone, but insists clubs are helping young players a lot more now.
“When I moved over to England the first time, there weren’t many lads going over at all but that has all changed. There are so many more trying to get over, which is fantastic for Irish football. Players these days are treated much better than we were back then.
“Clubs have a better understanding now days of young players. They house the youngsters together. Clubs have someone coming in to show the around and helping them settle in. They make an effort and as a result, the players are happier.
“Obviously the football end of things is the easy bit, it is what we all dream of as kids, but if you’re not happy you’re not going to enjoy it,” Murphy, who has returned to the national side under Martin O’Neill, said.
The improvement in the treatment of players is something Dineen, now 18, can vouch for. On moving to Celtic the teenager was housed with a family outside Glasgow, who had experience in dealing with young players moving over.
Within the house there were two other players, who helped Dineen with the move. Something Murphy didn’t have eleven years previously.
“It was good there were two other players in the house with me. It meant we could travel to the training, and go out together in the evenings. We were all in the same boat, so we helped each other. It was good to know; when things got hard I had someone I could talk to.” The centre-back said.
As well as dealing with personal issues, players have to deal with the whole saga of transfers. Being shipped from one club to another and trying to settle at a new club, which can be difficult.
After loan spells at Harrow Borrow, Murphy moved back to Ireland to further develop his skills with his local side Waterford United, before getting a second bite at the cherry in England, under former Republic of Ireland manager, Mick McCarthy.
“Coming home to play for United worked for me. It mightn’t work for everyone, but I was happy to be home. It was good to be back with my family and friends but I also gained experience with the Blues, and the Irish u21 squad. When Mick McCarthy came knocking from Sunderland I was ready to head back, it was time to make another go of things across the water.
“Going over to England for the second time, my girlfriend had just had a baby, so I knew they would be coming over with me, and it made it easier. It was the right time for me. I was going over to make it as a first team player, not as a youth player.”
Nothing is certain in football, and with transfers and rejection, it is a tough life for young players trying to make it. Even in his short career to date, Shane has spent time with Leicester City, where he captained their youth side last season before being let go during the summer.
“Deadline day last year, Leicester called me and said they were interested. I ran through Glasgow Airport, got to Leicester and passed the medical with 25 minutes to spare in the window.
“Moving from Glasgow was difficult, I had made some great friends and loved my time at Celtic, but I knew it was the right move for me. I would be closer to home, to my family and my girlfriend.
“Unfortunately, Leicester didn’t work out, and though I did captain the team, I wasn’t offered a contract renewal. It was hard to take because I loved my time there. I felt I had done myself proud, so it was disappointing not to get an offer.”
Murphy, now 31, is currently playing with championship side Ipswich Town. The Waterford man has also been capped for his country 13 times at senior level.
Unfortunately, Shane is still a free-agent, but is in talks with a League of Ireland club where he hopes to further his development as a player.
David Pheasey, Pundit Arena