Ex-Irish underage international Kelly steps down to League Two after Feyenoord exit

The midfielder, who turned down a senior Irish call-up in 2018, has signed a two-year deal with Rochdale.

Liam Kelly is unveiled at Rochdale.
Liam Kelly is unveiled at Rochdale.
Image: Rochdale Twitter Account

FORMER IRISH U21 international Liam Kelly has joined League Two side Rochdale following his exit from Dutch giants Feyenoord. 

Kelly, who made one Irish U21 appearance in 2014 and turned down a call-up to Martin O’Neill’s senior squad in 2018 for personal reasons, had been on trial at another League Two side, Swindon, before putting pen to paper on a two-year-deal with Rochdale. 

He joins following the end of a stint with Dutch side Feyenoord, for whom he made just one first-team appearance and was twice loaned to Oxford United of League One. 

Kelly came through the ranks at Reading, and linked up with former manager Jaap Stam when the former Manchester United defender took charge at Feyenoord in 2019. He left after just 18 games, however, and is now coaching FC Cincinnati in MLS. 

“I’m really excited to be here and I can’t wait to get going,” Kelly told the club’s official website.

“I’m really excited to be part of the project that the manager has got going on here and where he wants to take the club. The Gaffer wants to play attack minded football and excite the fans, and hopefully I can build into that.

“I first heard about this move at the start of last week. As soon as I heard about it, I spoke to the manager and then it was just about how quickly I could get it done and get up here to get playing.

“I’m someone who wants to get on the ball, who wants to help build the team up and start attacks, and hopefully I can chuck a few set-pieces in there as well and a few goals and assists.”

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“Liam comes in as a creative player and somebody who has got vast experience of playing at levels that are far higher than League Two”, said manager Robbie Stockdale. “He’s maybe looking for a place to call home now and hopefully this will be it for him.

“Saying that, he’s only 25 so he’s still young and has lots of years to improve and hopefully his peak years are ahead of him, so I’m really pleased to get it done. I probably wasn’t expecting to be able to get a player like him with his track record and what he’s done in the game, so hopefully the fans will really enjoy watching him play.”

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