'I was constantly called a 5-a-side footballer because I wanted to keep possession of the ball'

Tipperary’s Richie Ryan captains the Ottawa Fury in the North American Soccer League championship final later today.

IT’S BEEN A long road for Tipperary’s Richie Ryan.

In April 2003, he made his debut for Sunderland in a Tyne-Wear derby. But injury ensured he left the Stadium of Light two years later.

By 2007, after a disillusioning spell with Boston United, he contemplated quitting the game.

But a stint with Antwerp in Belgium saved him and reignited his love of the game. He returned to Ireland and won back-to-back FAI Cups with Sligo Rovers, named the PFAI Players’ Player of the Year in 2010.

Ryan tried his luck across the water once more and signed for Dundee United but quickly grew weary of the UK’s ‘big fish bowl’.

Richie Ryan lifts the FAI Cup Ryan, centre, lifts the FAI Cup with Sligo Rovers in 2011. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

After a handful of games with Shamrock Rovers, he and his partner relocated to Canada and Ryan signed for the Ottawa Fury, a brand new franchise plying their trade in the North American Soccer League – the second tier of the continent’s football structure.

The first campaign was difficult but this term, it’s been a lot different.

Later today, Ryan, who is club captain, will line up alongside Cork native Colin Falvey as the Fury take on the New York Cosmos in the NASL championship final.

The storied club will rely on their retiring Spanish duo of Raul and compatriot Marcos Senna to help win them the title though the Fury are the league’s in-form team.

What are they
really like?

Rare insights on sport's biggest names from the writers who know them best. Listen to Behind the Lines podcast.

Become a Member

And in Ryan, they possess one of the most consistent players. The 30-year-old has just been named in the NASL Team of the Year for 2015 in light of his performances this season.

Dublin film-maker Neil Dowling has been spending time with Ryan in Ottawa recently and has put together a gorgeous film re-tracing the steps of his career to date.

It’s well worth a watch.

Source: Neil Dowling/Vimeo

Cristiano Ronaldo opens up about his personal and professional life to Jonathan Ross

Zlatan Ibrahimovic on target but Denmark’s late away goal leaves tie finely poised

About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

Read next: