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With Alessandro Nesta in charge, former League of Ireland star Richie Ryan tastes success in Miami

The ex-Sligo Rovers midfielder has had quite the adventure since making the move to North America.

IT’S BEEN A whirlwind for Richie Ryan since he first made the move to the North American Soccer League.

That was in 2014, when the Tipperary native signed for Ottawa Fury and hopped on a plane to the Canadian capital. He had grown disillusioned with the game after an unsuccessful stint in Scotland and wanted to reignite his passion again. A change of scenery made sense but he could never have imagined just how different things would become.

He captained the Fury to a championship decider in 2015, where the club lost out to the New York Cosmos, before deciding to take up an offer from Florida-based franchise Jacksonville. But, within just a few months, a handful of games and with his wife and toddler daughter only newly arrived in the city, his employers finally gave in to the relentless advances of Miami FC – a brand-new NASL team co-owned by Paolo Maldini and with Alessandro Nesta as manager.

The offer was remarkable – nothing that had ever been seen in North American soccer circles. In an environment where trades and drafts are the norm, Miami forked out a reported $750,000 for Ryan, with the midfielder – allegedly – trebling his Jacksonville salary of between 80k – 90k per year.

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 13.19.59 Ryan in action for the Ottawa Fury, his first NASL team.

Speaking to The42 shortly after the deal was finalised, Ryan was searingly honest about the night when everything changed.

I closed the door, turned to the missus and said ‘What the fuck has just happened?’”

The following morning, he was on a plane to Miami and made his first appearance two days later.

But the club – despite the high-profile figures involved – had their teething problems and failed to make the post-season.

However, the 2017 campaign has been very different.

The NASL season is split in two: the shorter Spring season and longer Fall season. The winners of both are guaranteed a spot in the play-offs later in the year and this weekend, Miami racked up their very first piece of silverware by claiming the early NASL title with a 7-0 demolition of second-placed San Francisco Deltas.

With another baby on the way and Miami in excellent form, it promises to be quite the year for Ryan.

The whirlwind shows no signs of calming just yet.

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‘I closed the door, turned to the missus and said ‘What the f**k has just happened?”

Former Sligo Rovers star Richie Ryan is heading for Miami in a massively-lucrative deal

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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