My first couple months in Northern Ireland have been fantastic. I was welcomed with open arms by everybody involved with Portadown FC, from the fans to the players and the coaches. I think such a warm welcome for a player by any team is rare and I will cherish it forever, I now even have my own song that supporters sing and they even stuck a South African flag close to my goals. I’m honestly blown away by the support and respect they’ve shown me.
I recently got to go watch Northern Ireland against Italy and the atmosphere at the stadium was electric!! I wanted to attend the game to take notes on Donnarumma’s performance but to my surprise I decided to take notes on Bailey Peacock-Farrell instead! He had a great game with very good early decision making and it’s safe to say the Northern Ireland national team has a safe pair of hands for many years to come.
It was clear that Northern Ireland can compete against anyone in the world and they are obviously moving in the right direction, I think very soon we will see the country being ranked in the top 20 of the FIFA world rankings.
One thing that struck me was that the fans at Windsor Park really love football here and hopefully that energy will glide out into Danske Bank Premiership games, it’s very clear the league here has the potential to become massive.
This past week we faced Carrick Rangers at home and I went in the game with the mentality that no matter what we leave with 3 points as every game is crucial for us to go onto the pitch and get something out of the game, the disappointment I felt after the game after throwing away crucial points at the end like that was the first time in my career that a draw felt like a defeat to me.
This week I’ve got a schedule set out for me to train everyday leading up to a crucial six pointer against Dungannon Swifts, a game which the players, coaches, directors as well as the fans expect nothing less than 3 points from and that’s the mentality I’m going into the game with.