Rejected by Reading and Leicester plus all you need to know about the new Irish squad call-up

It took a while for his career to take off, but the Aberdeen winger is currently thriving.

Hayes has made over 100 appearances for Aberdeen since his arrival at the club in 2012.
Hayes has made over 100 appearances for Aberdeen since his arrival at the club in 2012.

THERE WERE A couple of new faces in Martin O’Neill’s Ireland squad for upcoming friendlies against Slovakia and Switzerland announced on Friday.

Four uncapped players featured — Peterborough’s Chris Forrester, Brentford midfielder Alan Judge, Wolves full-back Matt Doherty and Jonny Hayes of Aberdeen.

And of that quartet, Hayes is probably the least well-known player selected. Consequently, we’ve taken a look at his background, as he bids to stake a claim for an unlikely Euro 2016 place…

  • Hayes is a 28-year-old Dublin-born winger.
  • He has made over 100 appearances for Aberdeen since joining in 2012 and he is currently an important part of their unlikely bid for the Scottish Premiership title — they currently trail Celtic by one point, though the reigning champions have a game in hand.
  • This season, Hayes has five goals in 34 appearances in all competitions for the Scottish side, starting 27 of their 30 league games so far.
  • He is a product of Reading’s youth academy, but never played a first-team game for the Royals, going on loan spells to Forest Green Rovers and Milton Keynes Dons during his time there.
  • After failing to break into the Reading first team, he joined Leicester on a free transfer in 2007. However, he was released by the Foxes just two years later, after making just seven first-team appearances. During that time, he also had loan spells at Northampton Town and Cheltenham Town.
  • After being released by Leicester, Hayes joined Inverness Caledonian Thistle following a successful trial. It was during this period that he linked up with Adam Rooney — another future Aberdeen star who would also be called up by Ireland. He finally began to enjoy a sustained run of first-team action, after joining the Scottish First Division side, and helped them gain promotion to the Scottish Premier League during his first season there, scoring 10 goals in 35 league appearances.

Source: ScotlandsTalentHD™/YouTube


  • Following three successful seasons at Inverness, Hayes joined Aberdeen in 2009, and he has been a first-team regular with the Dons ever since. He started the final for the Aberdeen team that won the League Cup in 2014, but had to go off early after picking up a shoulder injury.
  • Thanks to his impressive form, he signed a new contract for Aberdeen in December 2014, and is currently contracted to the club until 2018.
  • He was the winner of Scotland’s 2013-14 goal of the season for this stunning strike against Celtic…

Source: Greg Macleod/YouTube

  • And it’s not the only spectacular effort he’s managed against Celtic. Here’s the goal he scored in the Dons’ 2-1 win over their title rivals last month…

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  • Hayes has also been named SPL Player of the Month twice — on November 2009 and April 2010.
  • Although Friday was his first-ever call-up to the senior squad, he has been capped three times for Ireland at U21 level.
  • After making the latest Ireland squad, his manager at club level Derek McInnes told the Scottish Daily Record: “I’m delighted for Jonny, it’s well deserved. It’s a great chance for him because they have a massive summer coming up with the Euros. Jonny has shown great consistency over the last few seasons. When he’s hot he has been very hot and he’s a matchwinner. He knocks his pan in for the team and is a real team player. He has the ability to play with great intensity for 90 minutes and the Irish coaching staff have obviously been impressed.”
  • He is one of three Irish players currently in the Aberdeen first-team squad – Adam Rooney and Willo Flood are the other two.
  • He suffered a bizarre injury last month, after being bitten by a dog, which led to him becoming embroiled in a Twitter argument.
  • Speaking about Aberdeen’s current title bid, he recently told reporters: “Pressure is when you are down at the bottom of the league and struggling to keep your job. People at the stadium might lose their jobs if the club is relegated. When other people rely on you, that is pressure. We are at the top end of the table and winning more games than not. Any player that buckles under pressure shouldn’t be playing football. It is a challenge that we relish. The players are thoroughly enjoying it and we are looking forward to the rest of the season.”

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Paul Fennessy

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