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Dublin: 5°C Wednesday 3 March 2021

The PFAI Young Player of the Year looks set for a move abroad

Hull City are among the teams being linked with a move for Ireland U21 international Danny Grant.

Danny Grant has impressed for Bohemians this season.
Danny Grant has impressed for Bohemians this season.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

FOR YEARS, Danny Grant dreamed of playing abroad. As a youngster, however, it was team-mates rather than himself that made the move across the water.

Grant was part of a talented Cherry Orchard side that featured the likes of Tyreke Wilson and Aaron O’Driscoll, who would go on to sign for Man City and Southampton respectively.

The Bohemians player did go on trials to English clubs in his early teens, but no concrete offers were forthcoming.

“It never came about for me,” he recalls. “There was a year then when I couldn’t get in the Cherry Orchard team. I just felt it was time for me to leave and enjoy my football again. Thankfully, I did that, and it’s taken me to where I am now.

“I definitely look at [not moving to England as a youngster] as a blessing in disguise. I read something last week, there’s a mad percentage, 90-something percent of people go away at 16 and come home, so it’s crazy the numbers — it’s obviously tough when you’re that young.

“So I wasn’t really obsessed with going away when I was that young. A lot of people are, but I wasn’t. I think you’re probably better off [staying in Ireland]. Don’t get me wrong, some people go at that age and they succeed, but the vast majority of them end up coming home. The majority are better off going when they’re that bit more mature, and you’ve played men’s football and experienced that before you go.”

The 20-year-old has established himself as a key player at Bohs in recent times. This year in particular, he has shone, as evidenced by Wednesday’s confirmation that he has claimed the PFAI Young Player of the Year accolade.

“Not a lot has changed in my game in terms of how I play, but my physicality allows me to handle the League of Ireland better now.

“So I’ve been going to the gym since last year, while I’ve also got through the year basically without any injuries.

“Last year, I pulled my hamstring twice and the year before that, once. I’ve had a few bad injuries.”

Meanwhile, in a recent interview with the LOI Weekly Podcast, Grant confirmed he was considering a move to English football.

Current League One table toppers Hull City are reportedly one club interested in signing the winger, whose performances helped Bohs to a second-place finish in the Premier Division this season, though Grant insists nothing has been decided yet.

I haven’t necessarily set myself a deadline, but I would probably like to know it sooner rather than later. I presume that I will make a final decision in the next couple of weeks.

“I’d probably like to have it sorted before Christmas, so that I know what I’m doing in the new year.”

And Grant says Bohemians will not stand in his way, as he seeks to challenge himself at a higher level.

“They are not really driven by money, it’s a club that does care about its players. Most clubs will tell you that they do, but Bohs do really care about their players.

“They have been understanding and I have spoken to Keith Long, and Keith speaks to my agent a couple of times a week.

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“He is understanding that I have ambitions to go, so I have to make the decision as to where is the right place for me to go.”

Grant still has a couple of months left of a business and management degree in Maynooth University, and he is determined to see it through no matter what happens football-wise.

“If I do go to England, I have spoken to clubs about accommodating me, because I do want to get it finished. With the circumstances we are in, I can do it online and we are not expected to be in the college, so it will work out well if I go.”

Remaining in the League of Ireland, he adds, is not out of the question at this stage.

“I speak to my mam and dad every day, they don’t put any pressure on me, telling me to take my time.

“My agent is the same and does not rush me, he wants it to be the right move if I do go.

“There is still a possibility that I would stay at Bohs or [elsewhere] in Ireland, but it’s leaning towards trying to get away.”

He continues: “I don’t want to go to a club where there are five or six wingers and it could take me three years to get into the team.

“I would rather go to a club where there are two or three, or one or two in your way.

Also, is the club going to make me a better player? Bohs have done this and it has been down to the coaching, the management of Keith [Long] and Trev [Croly], it’s all top drawer.” 

Grant was recently part of the Ireland U21 squad, who fell agonisingly short in their bid to qualify for the Euros.

He is childhood friends with Irish team-mate Conor Masterson, having been coached by his father as a youngster, while the pair both lined out for Lucan United.

Grant also admits to seeking advice from Masterson among others about a potential move to England, as he looks to switch from part-time to full-time football.

Yet regardless of what is said, Grant is well aware of the challenge that lies ahead, in trying to make an impact across the water.

“If I want to get the most out of my career, I have to try to move up the levels and it might not mean walking into the first team and playing the week after. It’ll be a shift from playing every week and scoring goals to maybe being somebody who’s not expected to start in the team. That’s just the shift that I’m willing to make and I’m willing to go there, and realise that I’m not maybe as well known there as I am here, and [must strive to] just work my way into the team.”

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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