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Dublin: 6°C Wednesday 2 December 2020
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The English midfielder who has brought global attention to the League of Ireland

An excellent game in Tallaght on Friday night produced an exceptional goal from Dundalk’s Jordan Flores.

FORGIVE US FOR making assumptions on someone else’s behalf, but we’re going to go ahead and surmise that when Jordan Flores was making his debut for Dundalk in Ballybofey last year, he didn’t expect this phase of his career to lead him to a slot on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

After Dundalk retained their League of Ireland Premier Division crown in September, the usual names were credited with playing pivotal roles in securing the club’s fifth title in six seasons. Players like Sean Gannon, Chris Shields, Michael Duffy and Patrick Hoban had seen it all before. 

jordan-flores-celebrates-scoring-their-first-goal Dundalk's Jordan Flores celebrates after scoring in Friday's 3-2 defeat to Shamrock Rovers. Source: Ciaran Culligan/INPHO

Flores was also a league winner with the Lilywhites in 2019, yet having been hailed as a major addition ahead of the start of that campaign, an injury prevented the midfielder from establishing himself in Irish football to the extent that he would have hoped for.

However, his spectacular contribution to Friday night’s game against Shamrock Rovers has generated a level of global attention seldom afforded to a League of Ireland player.

Better late than never for the 24-year-old, whose timing was impeccable as he met Duffy’s corner with an extraordinary left-footed volley that beat Rovers goalkeeper Alan Mannus.

Although it couldn’t stop Dundalk from going down to their title rivals, the strike is likely to live much longer in the memory than the result. Perhaps the only drawback was that it overshadowed another wonder goal scored later in the game.

A piece of Jack Byrne magic in the 83rd minute gave the Hoops a 3-2 win that they fully deserved, but even the Republic of Ireland international tipped his cap to a man he knows from their time together at Wigan Athletic.

“His goal was the best, being honest. Some goal,” said Byrne. “Cracker. I played with Jordan at Wigan and I knew he had that in his locker. I just didn’t think he’d take it out tonight.

“I’m delighted for him that he scored, as he had a tough time last year with injuries. He looks a lot fitter this year and hopefully he can go on and have a good season as he’s a good mate of mine. I spent a lot of time with him at Wigan, we’d hang around together, so I’m happy for him.”

Having grown up in the Greater Manchester village of Aspull, five miles from Wigan Athletic’s home ground, Flores joined his boyhood club at the age of 15.

On the final day of the 2014-15 season, he made his first-team debut for the Latics, aged 19, in a Championship game against Brentford. Among his team-mates on the day was current Manchester United captain Harry Maguire.

With Wigan relegated to League One for the following season, Flores marked his first league start for the club with a goal in a 2-1 win over Fleetwood Town. He ended the 2015-16 campaign with a new contract and the club’s Young Player of the Year award.

However, Flores spent the majority of the following two years out on loan. He helped Blackpool to achieve promotion via the League Two play-offs, before a spell at Chesterfield was cut short by a car accident in which he sustained injuries that sidelined him for several months.

A brief stint at AFC Fylde upon his return was followed by a move to the Swedish top flight, where he was signed by Ian Burchnall, who had succeeded current Brighton & Hove Albion manager Graham Potter as boss at Ostersunds.

exeter-city-v-blackpool-sky-bet-league-two-play-off-final-wembley-stadium Flores celebrates after winning promotion with Blackpool. Source: John Walton

In January 2019, Flores’ long association with Wigan Athletic came to an end when he signed a two-year contract with Dundalk.

In one of the 16 Premier Division appearances he made last year, the Englishman hinted at a penchant for spectacular goals with a thunderbolt in a win away to Waterford.

Much of his debut campaign was hindered by a hip injury that required surgery, but his start to the 2020 season has been promising for Dundalk. The superb goal that Flores scored in last Monday’s win over Cork City was completely eclipsed by his offering in Tallaght just four days later.

The video of his goal against Shamrock Rovers that was uploaded to Twitter by RTÉ has already attracted five million views, while kudos has also come from the likes of France Football, AS, FOX Sports, Match of the Day and Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports.  

“It’s been a bit mad really,” Flores told DFC TV of the reaction to the goal. “My phone hasn’t stopped going off. I’ve had to put it down, to be honest. It was a good goal. I’m happy to score it but it’s a bit disappointing that we lost the game.”

He added: “It’s all good recognition for myself, the club and the league itself. There is top-quality things going on in the league and it deserves more recognition.”

Flores also explained that according to the set-piece blueprint Dundalk had mapped out ahead of the game, the initial intention was to get his head to Michael Duffy’s delivery. 

“Usually I go out short for corners but because of the goal I scored against Cork, we thought it would be best for me to be on the edge of the box,” he said.

“The plan was for Mickey [Duffy] to hit that back post and for me to spin off but to use my head. The day before in training I did a couple of headers that went wide so I thought I’d just volley it – and that happened.”

A goal they’d be proud to claim as one of their own in his father’s hometown of Barcelona.

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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