Ottawa Fury FC
man of steele

Former Northern Ireland international signed by Alessandro Nesta and makes move to Miami

Jonny Steele is back from the brink and has been rewarded for his perseverance.

JONNY STEELE WAS close to packing it in.

In the summer of 2014, the Larne native was involved with Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland setup – his form for Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls led to a call-up and his inclusion in a number of squads.

But owing to the player turnover at various MLS teams, Steele was on the move that July. He travelled across the world and signed for the Newcastle Jets of the Australian A-League but never settled. By December, he was gone.

Early 2015 and he arrived in Minnesota to feature in the second tier of North American football – the NASL. He lasted six months with the club and, at 29, was disillusioned with the game and prepared to walk away.

“I thought about giving up”, he said later.

Some things happened with other teams and I couldn’t be bothered with that anymore. That’s the politics of the game.”

But, six months later, he got a call from another NASL side – the Ottawa Fury – whose coach, Paul Dalglish, managed Steele at one of his previous clubs in Tampa Bay.

Despite the Fury only winning two of their 10 Spring season games, Steele enjoyed himself – scoring a superb goal in the Canadian Championship clash with Vancouver Whitecaps.


After two games of the Fall season, Steele has been rewarded for his impressive displays and secured a switch to Miami FC - the team co-owned by Paolo Maldini and coached by another iconic ex-Italian defender – Alessandro Nesta.

This is the franchise’s first season in the NASL and have found the going tough early on, winning just once in 2016.

As a result of their exceptionally poor start, the club signed former Sligo Rovers midfielder Richie Ryan (who moved to the NASL in 2014 with, ironically enough, the Ottawa Fury) to a lucrative contract in May and things have relatively settled down since.

Nesta has never managed before and knew little about the physical and aggressive nature of the North American domestic leagues.

Ryan’s capture signalled a change in the manager’s approach.

Steele’s signing is another example of Nesta’s desire for more determined, dogged and hard-working players in his squad.

The 30-year-old certainly fits that description.

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