Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

It’s all Greek now for Roy Carroll

Think Crete and sun, sea and the new Inbetweeners movie might just spring to mind. For Northern Ireland goalkeeper Roy Carroll and family it will be home for the next two years.

The 33-year-old has taken the huge step to join OFI Crete, who play in the Greek Super League, moving to the Mediterranean island earlier this month.

His eventful career, which has included spells with Manchester United and Rangers, has taken him abroad before, to Denmark, where he performed well for Odense, but Crete is a world away from that.

“To be honest the reason I've come to play in the Greek League is because there was nothing else on the table that appealed to me,” he says.

“I had a few offers from lower league clubs, but they didn't present me with the opportunity I'll get in Greece.

“I was offered a contract in the summer at Preston, but then I received a call from Phil Brown to say they were going with another goalkeeper. That disappointed me, but at least the manager phoned me to explain things.

“I was then training with Leyton Orient and I was offered six months with them, but the two year deal in Greece came up and I felt I had to take it.

“My family (wife and two kids) are moving out with me and I'm looking forward to the experience.

“It's top flight football in a good European league and the club I'm joining are very ambitious. They were relegated a couple of years ago, but have got promoted, are determined to stay up and then kick on and hopefully qualify for Europe. It's going to be good to be part of something like that.

“The President of the club made it clear he wanted to sign me and to be honest it's nice to feel wanted again.

“It’s been eight months since I had a proper game in Denmark, so I’m looking forward to playing again.”

He’ll do so in the weeks and months to come against the likes of Olympiakos, Panathinaikos and AEK Athens.

“Crete is a holiday island and the fans of our club are diehard supporters,” says Carroll.

“Around 6,000 go to every home game and from being part of the Northern Ireland squad when we played in Greece, I know how passionate people are in this part of the world about their football.

“I've always enjoyed playing in that sort of atmosphere, so it should be fun.”

Carroll jokes that “I’m still learning English” adding that he will try with the local lingo, admitting that his ultimate goal is a return to England, where he played with Hull City, Wigan Athletic, West Ham and Derby as well as the Red Devils.

“The ideal scenario would be to do really well with OFI Crete, help them be successful and then earn a good move back to England.”

Carroll expects to get “a good Irish tan” when he is away.

He also expects to be asked a lot about his time at Manchester United, who are well supported in Crete, in common with most places on the planet.

Carroll, who won Premier League titles and an FA Cup with the Red Devils, says: “It is the biggest club in the world and everything you do is highlighted.

“From my point of view people remember the mistakes, like the Spurs one, far more than they remember the good games, but I look back on my time there with fondness. I learnt a lot at the club and enjoyed my time there. I also won major medals. Not everyone can say that.”

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