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Irish winger heads out on loan to Dutch side after signing new deal at Norwich

20-year-old Simon Power from Greystones will spend the rest of the season with FC Dordrecht.

Power signing for FC Dordrecht alongside manager Claudio Braga (right).
Power signing for FC Dordrecht alongside manager Claudio Braga (right).

ONE CRITICISM OFTEN aimed at Irish footballers is that many are reluctant to look beyond Britain in their quest to carve out a successful career in the game. 

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, and Simon Power is the latest young player to buck the trend.

A year ago, the Wicklow native joined Norwich City after a handful of games for UCD in the SSE Airtricity League First Division.

Having just signed a new three-year deal with the Canaries, the winger has agreed a loan move to Dutch club FC Dordrecht for the remainder of the season — with the option of a further year.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” Power, a former Ireland U19 international, told The42 today. “I only signed with Norwich this time last year and that was an 18-month contract, so I did feel under a bit of pressure to prove myself.

“Now, signing a three-year deal is a relief. It’s surreal and I’m really looking forward to the future.”

His agent Patrick Conliffe of Full Contact added: “We are delighted for Simon as he’s such a good pro and a pleasure to deal with, so he deserved a further deal at Norwich. Holland will be an interesting and exciting education for him and hopefully more young Irish players venture on to the continent.”

The 20-year-old had to make up for lost time as UCD were out of season prior to his arrival in England. However, after working hard on his fitness, he broke into Norwich’s U23s to make 11 appearances and score two goals. 

“I settled quite quickly,” he says. “The first few weeks were quite tough, moving away from family and not knowing anyone. But everyone up at Norwich was really welcoming and helpful to me.

“Particularly this season, I’ve made some really close mates and that has aided my game even further.”

With a new contract secured, the opportunity to test himself in a different country and experience first-team football was too good to turn down.

“Norwich were talking about giving me a new contract and they felt I was ready to move on from U23s to senior football,” Power explains. “It was briefly mentioned that they were going to send me on loan but I didn’t know where to.

Then they said that I was going to Holland, which was unbelievable. I was shocked as I didn’t expect that at all. Learning the Dutch way to play football will benefit me a lot so I’m really looking forward to see what happens.”

Having initially visited FC Dordrecht — who are in the Dutch second tier — before Christmas, he linked up with the squad at the beginning of this month for a warm weather training camp in Malaga.

He adds: “Over here, they play a different style. The’re quite good technically and that can only help my game. I’m here to learn and improve on some of my weaknesses. Hopefully this loan spell goes well and by the end of next season I’ll be up with the first team at Norwich.”

The club, nicknamed the Sheep Heads, are languishing near the foot of the Eerste Divisie heading out of the winter break, but with new Portuguese manager Claudio Braga in charge, Power is optimistic that they can turn things around.

“They’re near the bottom of the table so hopefully we can start climbing back up the table and I can be a big part of that.”

Former Ireland youth internationals such as Jack Byrne and Dan Crowley have impressed in Dutch football in recent times with SC Cambuur and Willem II respectively, while we’ve seen young English talents like Jadon Sancho and Reiss Nelson shine in Germany this season.

“The players you mention there are all huge names and they are lads I would look up to,” Power replies, when that point is put to him. “I’ll try to follow in their footsteps because it has gone well for these guys in different countries, so hopefully I can do the same by developing my game.”

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Ben Blake

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