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'I was in a bad place coming home from Scotland... it doesn't look good'

Ireland U21 winger Zack Elbouzedi reflects on a terrific 2019 in the latest episode of The Football Family.

zak-elbouzedi-celebrates-scoring-his-sides-fourth-goal Zack Elbouzedi celebrates after scoring for the Ireland U21s against Sweden. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

FOR ZACK ELBOUZEDI, 2019 can be marked down as a resounding success.

When he debuted for Waterford against Shamrock Rovers in February, he was another Irish youngster whose confidence had been shattered by encountering rejection in the UK.

Yet as a new year approaches, clubs on both sides of the Irish Sea are casting admiring glances in the direction of the 21-year-old from Dublin.

While appearing as the guest on Episode 11 of The Football Family podcast, Elbouzedi was keen to express his gratitude to Waterford manager Alan Reynolds, who put his faith in the talented winger when he returned home after an injury-hampered season with Scottish side Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Elbouzedi, who had been released by West Bromwich Albion in 2017, looks unlikely to be back in a Waterford shirt next year. Following his recent displays for the Republic of Ireland U21s, it’s not surprising that he’s now a player in demand.

He scored the only goal of the game in a vital away win in Armenia, before chipping in with another goal and an assist — while also wearing the captain’s armband in Jayson Molumby’s absence — in the second half of last week’s 4-1 defeat of Sweden.


Source: The42 Podcasts/SoundCloud

“Obviously when I came home I was in a tough place,” Elbouzedi said. “In fairness to Alan Reynolds, the gaffer, he was on to me straight away. That [Waterford] was the place that I always wanted to go to at that point.

“He told me I was going to play and I’ve always known if I get the chance to play that I’ll repay the manager. It probably went a bit better than I expected but I knew once somebody gave me the chance that I’d repay them.”

Elbouzedi, who was born in Dublin to an Irish mother and a Libyan father, added: “I was in a tough place but I have great support around me. My mam, my dad and my brother were always positive and they were the ones who were sort of relaying the message that if you get the chance we know that you’ll take it.

“Obviously I was in a bad place coming home from Scotland. It doesn’t look good, really. But they stood by me and Alan Reynolds, as I said, was on to me straight away. He said he believed in me and that he’d give me the chance. He stuck to his word and I have to thank him for that because it could easily have gone a different way. Thank God it went a good way.”

You can hear the full episode with Zack Elbouzedi — which also includes details of how you can win an Ireland shirt signed by the man himself — by becoming one of our valued members. Details of how to do so for just €5 per month — or €42 for a year — are available here

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To get in touch with the show, e-mail thefootballfamily@the42.ie  

- Originally published at 07.15

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Paul Dollery

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