Ndaba on Salford, Neville's advice, his brush with Ronaldo-mania and his goal of reaching the Ipswich Town first-team
- Credit: Salford City FC
Corrie Ndaba is exactly where he wants to be. For now, at least.
The Irishman has started all five league games since making a temporary move to Salford City last month, with regular football the missing ingredient for a 21-year-old who has shown plenty of promise at Portman Road.
That chance to learn is one big box ticked, but a loan to Salford ticks plenty of others for a boyhood Manchester United fan who can now see Old Trafford from the window of his hotel.
This is where Ndaba wants to be right now but it's not permanent. He has his sights set on a return to Suffolk and making an impact at a club he joined when moving from Dublin at the age of 15.
“Gary Neville has come in and had chats with us and, as a United fan, that’s crazy,” Ndaba said, having joined a club part-owned by United greats Gary and Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and David Beckham.
“I’m staying in the Hotel Football (owned by those same players, minus Beckham) and he’s been in here to have chats as well, so it’s been a bit surreal.
“Some of the other boys at Salford see him every week because he’s at all the games, but when I came I was taken by surprise. It’s normal here, though.
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“He comes in to watch training and is the most hands on of the former United guys. We’ve had a chat about my game as well and he’s just told me to go and enjoy myself, without too much pressure on. I’d like to pick his brain a bit.
“The hotel is right beside Old Trafford and it gets so busy. Cristiano Ronaldo is obviously back now and there have been loads of cameras filming outside and things like that. It’s a great atmosphere and funny to see, with loads of people just doing Ronaldo celebrations.
“As a United fan it’s a great place to be.”
Though Ndaba will no doubt try to catch a game at Old Trafford when he can, his loan to Salford isn’t about sightseeing.
Here’s there on business, with the ultimate goal of making the grade back in Suffolk.
“I need to play games, get that experience and then kick on in my career,” Ndaba said.
“I spoke to the gaffer at Ipswich (Paul Cook) and we decided this is what’s best for me, which I was happy with.
“The goal is to come back at play for Ipswich. I’ve been at the club since I was 15 and it’s all I know. I want to make it there, break into the team and be a big player for Ipswich Town.
“Hopefully that can happen – I just have to work hard and keep going.”
Ndaba, a classy left-sided defender, has pushed for first-team involvement at Town during each of the last three summers but has yet to play a league game for the club, featuring five times in cups. He’s hoping to return for another attempt in 2022 with plenty more weapons in his armoury.
“I’ve been around the first-team at Ipswich for a while but it’s maybe the experience I’m lacking,” said Ndaba, who finished last season with a fruitful loan move to Ayr in Scotland.
“I’m physically ready but there are a lot of things you need to learn. This loan will benefit me and give me a better chance to go and get in the Ipswich Town starting XI. Games are key and I don’t have many of those under my belt.
“League One is a big test so hopefully I can do well here in League Two, go back to Ipswich with the experience I get and take things on. Hopefully Ipswich are in the Championship then, too.
“Players like Luke Woolfenden (Swindon) and Flynn Downes (Luton) have been on loan to League Two and then jumped into the Ipswich team the next season, so there’s no reason I can’t. I want to take the same path.”
It’s been an up-and-down start to life at Salford for Ndaba who, while performing well himself, has been on the winning side twice and a losing one three times in his first five league games.
That means a club which has designs on promotion each-and-every season currently sit 17th in League Two.
“I’m a city boy from Dublin, so moving to Ipswich and seeing how small it was I was thinking ‘wow, this is very quiet’ - but I’ve been there years now and I love the place,” he said. “So coming to Manchester, a busy city, is something I’ve needed to get used to.
“Salford’s a family club, just like at Ipswich, so that’s helped. Everyone’s been so welcoming. I can see that everyone’s hungry to do well and there are good players here. It’s really similar to Ipswich.
“We want to win promotion. We’ve been on top in a lot of games but the results haven’t been going our way.
“We have a good manager (Gary Bowyer) and, if we keep doing what we’re doing then the results will come.
“Promotion is the aim and we have the players to be right up there. That’s our goal.”
He continued: “This league is tough. It’s physical but we try to play as well, which suits me well.
“I’m also experiencing the physical side to it which is good for me as well. It’s a mixture of that and it’s going to benefit me.”
Ndaba isn’t the only Ipswich player to have moved to League Two this summer, with the Irishman set to see plenty of familiar faces throughout the campaign, as a consequence of manager Paul Cook’s summer cull.
“My first game was against Swindon and I obviously know Tyreece Simpson (who is on loan there) well, so that was fun. Just a shame about the result (Salford lost 1-0).
“He’s trying to do the same thing I’m doing. We’re young, hungry and want to get games under our belts and give ourselves the best chance to get into the Ipswich first-team.
“When you play against people you know you have that extra bit of confidence because you know their game and you know what you’re facing.
“We’ve got Colchester soon, who obviously have loads of players I know and there are a few more in other teams as well.
“When we play Leyton Orient I’ll be facing Aaron Drinan. We lived together, so that will be a fun experience.”