David Healy heading for South Africa
Published 17/07/2013 | 08:00
Northern Ireland legend David Healy could be on his way to South Africa.
The Belfast Telegraph can reveal that Healy's representatives have been in talks with Belfast man Sammy Troughton, the coach of top flight South African club University of Pretoria about a possible transfer to the Rainbow Nation.
Healy, who left Bury at the end of last season, is a free agent. The 33-year-old is weighing up his options which include a move to play in the United States or staying in England should a club come in for him before the new season gets under way next month.
Healy's family – he is married and has two children – will play a major part in what possibly could be the final move of his career which started at Manchester United and saw him go on to play for the likes of Preston, Fulham, Sunderland and Rangers.
It is as a Northern Ireland player, of course, that he is best known, earning iconic status for his stunning scoring feats while wearing the green shirt of his country.
Healy, five caps away from a century, has netted a record 36 goals, a haul unlikely to ever be beaten.
His most recent international strike came last November with a late equaliser avoiding an embarrassing World Cup defeat to Azerbaijan at Windsor Park.
Current Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill has stated his intention to keep 'King David' involved in the squad, though whether a move abroad would change that remains to be seen.
If the name of University of Pretoria coach Sammy Troughton sounds familiar, it's because he started his career at Glentoran. He joined Wolves in the early 80s before moving to South Africa where he made his mark as a player and is now earning himself a strong reputation as a coach.
Last year Troughton helped guide Pretoria to promotion into the South African Premier Soccer League, where they finished eighth out of 16 teams, which includes big hitters such as Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
The new campaign begins in August and Troughton makes no secret of his admiration for Killyleagh's favourite son.
"From what we are hearing from those representing David, he would consider something different be that in America or South Africa," Troughton, speaking from Pretoria, told the Belfast Telegraph.
"As far as I'm concerned David is a legend. Certainly I would love to get him out here to see if he likes what we have to offer.
"I know he has a family to consider and there are still a lot of permutations for David and a few things to be discussed at our end but what I would like to see happen is that we make some sort of offer.
"I'm not sure we could offer David the money that he may receive in England, but then there is a different standard of living over here. You don't need as much money in this part of the world to have a really good apartment, good car and a good standard of living."
Troughton added that the standard of football in South Africa is better than many may think.
He said: "The standard is good. Having the World Cup staged here in 2006 helped and as for our own club people may look at the name, University of Pretoria, and think what sort of mickey mouse outfit is that, but that would be completely wrong because we are in the top division in South Africa, we have top facilities here and we, as a club, are intent on moving forward and it would be great if David Healy was part of that."