Player of Year Ryan sets sights on move abroad
RICHIE RYAN, the outstanding League of Ireland player of 2010, looks set to move abroad this winter to further his football ambitions.
The Sligo Rovers midfielder is out of contract and remains in negotiations with the Bit O'Red about extending his stay at the Showgrounds.
However, the 25-year-old is not close to agreeing a deal, and has told manager Paul Cook that he is keen to move to England or further afield.
The Kilkenny native, who was yesterday named the Airtricity/SWAI Player of the Month for October, broke through at Sunderland as a teenager before injuries stunted his progress. Now he's ready for another crack at a higher level.
"I have always been honest with Paul Cook in that if I got a chance to move back to England or Europe or wherever, I would always want to do it. Paul has always said that he would never stand in my way.
"I'm up in the air at the moment. I don't know if I'm coming or going."
Ryan is on the list of Irish players who are interested in participating in a free agents tournament in Norway in January. He believes that Irishmen need to broaden their horizons, and be prepared to look outside the UK market -- particularly in this difficult financial climate which has affected the game here.
"Irish players can be very naïve towards playing European football," he said. "The way we play at Sligo, maybe some of our players would be better suited to continental football. It's the same with some of the lads at Sporting Fingal.
"I have a missus and a little kid, but they've said they would be willing to move as well. It's no problem. If the league is going to continue to go downhill, then you have to look at other opportunities.
"Shamrock Rovers are the league champions, but they are part-time. They are possibly the biggest team in the league, along with Sligo.
"Some people say the only way Irish football can survive is by going part-time but I personally don't agree with that. We're a full-time club that has been successful and we've had no money troubles," continued Ryan, who turns 26 in January.
"I don't want to go part-time. I haven't been part-time since I've been a footballer. I'm not saying I don't want to stay in Ireland as I'm still in talks with Sligo. But if I do stay here next year, I'll be nearly 27 at the end of the season. I can't see many English clubs or European clubs taking a chance on a 27-year-old.
"I could also have a s**t season next year -- it could happen very easily as I was s**t last year (2009)."
Ryan, voted this season's top performer by his peers in the PFAI, also reflected on a campaign which ended in bittersweet fashion. He was controversially suspended as Sligo won the FAI Ford Cup with a penalty shootout win over Shamrock Rovers in front of 36,000 spectators of the Aviva Stadium. While he enjoyed the celebrations, he hated the build-up.
"When we got to the stadium, that was the hardest part," he reflected. "Sitting at the side of the pitch seeing the fans arrive -- it hit me hard then. But once the game started, I was more excited for the lads than anything."