'I'll keep an eye out for Fabregas. It would be incredible to play with a World Cup winner'

New Como signing Liam Kerrigan has been settling in to life in northern Italy as he outlines the club’s three-year plan to reach Serie A.

Como's Liam Kerrigan.
Como's Liam Kerrigan.
Image: ComoFC

FIRST THINGS FIRST: Liam Kerrigan has not yet laid eyes on Cesc Fabregas at Como’s training camp beneath the Alps in Bormio.

The UCD graduate is nearing the end of an intensive three-week retreat with his new teammates ahead of the Serie B season, and the word is the 2010 World Cup winner is about to link up.

The news was broken on social media last week by transfer guru Fabrizio Romano and, instantly, Kerrigan’s phone lit up.

“It was going crazy, but that was the first I had heard. All I was getting from people was, ‘Is he there, is he there?’ They didn’t believe me when I said he wasn’t here.

“There is no sign yet, anyway, but it would be something else if he did come,” Kerrigan says, excitedly. “That would be some difference, to play with someone like him who has played at the level he has for so many years and done what he has.

“It would be incredible to play with a World Cup winner, but there is no sign of him yet. I’ll keep an eye out, though, and sure it would be a good aul’ help to have another English speaker here too.”

imago-20210625 Cesc Fabregas has been heavily linked with a move. Source: Imago/PA Images

Kerrigan is settling in to a new way of football, and life, in the north of the country. His move was confirmed earlier this week, one which first came on the radar back in May and then intensified after he impressed for the Ireland U21s against Italy.

A delegation of seven – including chief executive Dennis Wise, technical director Marc Bircham and head coach Giacomo Gattuso – were among those to sign off on a three-year contract for the talented right winger.

“That kind of deal gives me the confidence that I have the backing of people at the club, not just one person,” he explains.

Como are a club with serious backing. They are owned by the company belonging to Indonesia’s wealthiest man, Robert Budi Hartono, who according to Forbes is worth $20.7 billion.

Kerrigan isn’t quite old enough to remember Wise as a Chelsea player, but he had his father and Blues-supporting uncle to fill him in. “He wasn’t shy about putting in a tackle, I was told. They were both very excited I was talking to him.”

chelsea-v-sunderland-premier-league-stamford-bridge Como CEO Dennis Wise. Source: PA

When a Zoom call was arranged before agreeing to the move, the Sligo native had questions for the CEO about the club’s plans, their preferred formation, the kind of help he would get with learning the language, and where he would be living.

“I kind of already had my mind made up before then,” he says, with League One Lincoln City also interested having him invited him over as a guest for a game with Sheffield Wednesday previously.

“But after the call I said to my agent, ‘Don’t even bother mentioning anyone else, I’m going there’. Their plans for the next few years are so exciting. They have a three-year plan to get into Serie A, the aim this season is the play-offs so it could come sooner.

For someone like me, who wants to really do well, you would want to be a part of this club right now. I want to move as quickly as the club as well. I have my degree – in Commerce – from UCD in the bag now so it’s about throwing myself fully into football and not worrying about anything else.

“I see a pathway for myself here to go far. It was a move that felt different, exciting, and the style of play is the way I play, I think I could thrive here.

“There is only one way to find out, isn’t there?” he continues. “I see myself maybe as a bit of an outlier and it might take a while for the Italian boys to get used to how I play. I can only learn and get better being here.”

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There were also words of warning from Wise when he was selling the club’s vision to him.

“He told me it was a lot more intense here and that there are times he has had to tell them to calm down because they do too much the day before a game.

“I’ve seen that up close the last couple of weeks and I love it, it’s not like football is a chore.”

liam-kerrigan-celebrates-after-the-game UCD graduate Liam Kerrigan. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The days have been long on the training camp, breakfast from 7.30am with double sessions of fitness and tactical work taking the squad through to 7pm in the evenings.

And before they departed for the intensive regime to prepare for the new campaign Kerrigan was given a first-hand look at the fanatical local support that awaits.

“We were going to a function in the town hall and I thought it would be something small there. It was dark and we got on the team bus to bring us and then all of a sudden there were rows and rows of fans on either side with red and blue flares.

“There was smoke everywhere and all you could hear was noise. They were chanting and going absolutely bananas. I loved it. It was just slightly different than UCD.”

- Originally published at 12:35pm

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