Big interview: David McGoldrick on Leicester interest, Ireland debut and how he turned his career around
- Credit: Archant
From League One loanee at Coventry City to multi-million pound target for Premier League Leicester City and Republic of Ireland international. STUART WATSON spoke to Ipswich Town striker David McGoldrick about turning his career around.
Q: Hi David. First of all, congratulations on making your Republic of Ireland debut on Tuesday night.
DM: “Thanks. It was good to finally get it over the line (passport). I was surprised to start against the USA, but that must be a good thing. It was great to go out there and get 75 minutes.
“I wasn’t expecting to play Scotland in the qualifier. I’d only been with the squad a few days and I’m a level-headed lad. It was just great to be on the bench and involved with that one.”
Q: Two assists against the States. It sounds like it went well.
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“It was alright. I’d only been training with those players for a week and it can take a bit of time to click, but I thought the whole team – as a largely new eleven – did well. Obviously I was up front with Murph (Daryl Murphy) and I know his game, so that helped.
“I wasn’t nervous. I knew Murph, Alex Pearce and Cyrus Christie and everyone was really, really nice. Murph said they were all top lads and they were.”
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Q: What feedback did Martin O’Neill give you?
DM: “He just said ‘well played’. He told me to go out there and play my normal game because that’s why he picked me. I think I did that.
“They are both two nice guys and were easy to talk to – both Roy (Keane) and Martin (O’Neill).
“The standard was very good. There are some top quality Premier League and Championship players there. It was an eye-opener and a big confidence boost to train and play with them.”
Q: I have to ask you about the Leicester City interest towards the end of the August transfer window. The club turned down big money for you. How did you feel about that?
DM: “I wouldn’t say my head was turned. I was never banging down doors demanding to move. It’s like any job though, if you get offered the chance to better your career you’re always going to be thinking about it.
“I’m a Midlands lad, I could have lived in my house back there, one of my best mates, Wes Morgan, plays for them. Imagine if you got offered a top job as a Sky reporter, you’d probably think about it.
“I did think about it, it could have been a good move for me, but I never spat my dummy out. I’ve just knuckled down and got on with it.”
Q: As a player, how aware of you of what’s going on during those sort of transfer talks?
DM: “I just remember I got a call saying ‘there’s a bit of interest’ and I said ‘okay, whatever’. Later on that day I got told there’d been a bid.
“I actually did get an injury on the Thursday. People thought I was lying, but big (Balint) Bajner went into me with his big legs in training and put me out with a dead leg! (for the game at Derby).
“By Sunday the deal was off so it was a case of returning to training on Monday and getting on with it.
“I won’t lie, it was a massive confidence boost, a Premier League club coming in for me at that price. It was a lot of money and for (Marcus) Evans to turn it down shows how much the club thinks of me.
“Hopefully I can now get back to my best, score goals and help Ipswich get up to the Premier League this season.”
Q: It’s been a remarkable turnaround for you really. Let go by Southampton as a youngster, never really won people over at Nottingham Forest and then loaned to League One side Coventry. Fast-forward two-and-half years and Ipswich Town are turning down £7.5m bids from a Premier League side and you’re making your international debut. What was the turning point do you think?
DM: “I was out for three or four months with a stress fracture in my back at the end of my Forest career. That’s when I really realised how much I love football and how much I needed to knuckle down.
“I remember I got a call from my agent saying a team wanted me. I won’t say who the team was, but they were a bit lower down. It made me realise ‘this could be gone for me soon’.
“Anyone can drift out the game and drop down the leagues. Just look at some of the players who are out of contract now. I could have been one of them. I could still be one of them if I don’t keep working hard.
“Football is what I’ve always wanted to do and the older I was getting the faster it was slipping away. I knew I had to knuckle down and I’ve done that. I got my love for the game back.
“I have always believed in my ability, even when things weren’t going well for me at Forest. Something clicked for me just before I went to Coventry. I knew that things were turning for me. I worked hard one summer and came back ready to go. I’m so grateful that things turned around.”
Q: You scored 16 goals before a knee injury cut short last season in mid-February. There were a couple of set-backs with the recovery. Was that in the back of your mind when you first returned to action?
DM: “It wasn’t the first injury, it was the second one when my cartilage came out that was the problem. I lost a lot of muscle in my leg. I was a bit scared for a long time to proper blast the ball. I think the first time I proper blasted it was probably when I scored against Fulham actually (on the first day of the season). When the ball was coming back to me I was thinking ‘oh no, here we go’.
“That goal gave me confidence. I get aches and pains, but I feel like I’m getting back to my best.”
Q: I was going to ask that actually, have we seen the best of you yet this season?
DM: “No, you haven’t seen the best of me yet.
“I feel I’m getting there. Hopefully in the next few weeks and months I’ll be back to my best. The team is at its best and doing well though and that’s the main thing.”
Q: That must be exciting. You’ve scored five goals this season, just made your international debut and you know there’s still more to come?
DM: “That’s a good feeling actually, knowing I can play much-much better but I’m still amongst the goals. I know I’ve got a few more things to offer the team.”
Q: Daryl Murphy’s the main man when it comes to goals this season. Can you catch him?
DM: “I’ve got no real competition with Murph in that respect. He’s been absolutely on fire, he’s been our best players and some of the goals he’s got have been superb. Every time he goes through you expect him to score.
“If ends up with 20-odd and I provide the assists then I’ll be happy with that. I like Daryl as a lad, he’s a good mate of mine and I’m cool with him getting the goals.”
Q: What’s it like partnering him up front for club and now country?
DM: “Great. I think before I came here he was playing on the left wing a lot, but he’s right up top now. When I got injured he was the main man. He should be getting a lot more of the plaudits than he’s getting.
“What’s he got? Ten goals in 15? He’s not getting the plaudits he deserves. He’s great to play alongside because he wins a lot of headers, he works hard, he does his shift out there. I’ve got a lot of time for Murph, both as a person and a player.”
Q: ‘Confidence’ is a word that you use a lot. How big a part does that play in football?
DM: “As a striker, confidence is one of the main things. You can see with Murph at the moment, when he shoots he’s not shooting just to have a shot on target, he’s shooting believing it’s going to be a goal.
“Sometimes, as a striker, you can feel your way through a game. When the ball gets passed to you, you don’t know what you’re going to do and you think about things too much. When you’re feeling confident then things just come natural. When I get the ball and I don’t think about what I’m going to do, it just happens, that’s when I feel like I’m at the top of my game. That’s how I’ve felt for 18 months, two years now.”
Q: What’s happening with your contract? I believe it expires at the end of this season but that the club have a clause to extend it for a year?
DM: “That’s right. “There’s a clause in the contract. It’s the club’s so they will trigger that.
“I’m not really worrying about my contract at the minute. That’s down to the club and my people. I’m happy here right now, I’m playing good football in a team of boys I really like. Long may that continue.”