Belfast Telegraph

I never owned an England kit: Former Arsenal star confirms switch to Republic of Ireland after Eredivisie move

Daniel Crowley
Daniel Crowley

By John Fallon

Mick McCarthy may have lost Declan Rice but Daniel Crowley has confirmed he's coming the other way by applying for a FIFA transfer from England.

Martin O'Neill and his assistant Roy Keane had invited Crowley and his father Dave to a meeting at the Belfry Golf Club in 2015 when he was making an impact on loan at Barnsley from Arsenal.

The midfielder then endured a tough time at club level, eventually joining Dutch Eredivisie side Willem II in July 2017.

He's rediscovering some of the talent which convinced Arsene Wenger to lure him from Aston Villa at the age of 16, playing 22 times so far this term including outings against Ajax and Feyenoord.

Having rebuilt his club career, Crowley has resolved his international allegiance by throwing his lot in with Ireland. He played for both countries up to U-19 level but insists representing Ireland was his ultimate ambition.

His father Dave's parents are from Waterford and Cork, while his mother Maria also has relations from Mayo.

"I am really enjoying my football, playing every week in a strong league," he said last night.

"I've also matured on and off the pitch. I grew up in England and have friends there but never owned an England kit. Ireland were the team I supported at the Euro 2016 finals."

Crowley's FIFA transfer won't be completed in time for McCarthy's opening matches next month, the Euro 2020 double-header against Gibraltar and Georgia, but he should be eligible for the end-of-season assignments.

McCarthy will bring his squad to Portugal for a training camp in late May as part of the build-up to the qualifier in Denmark on June 7.

"I've kept in touch with the FAI scout, Mark O'Toole, over the years and he knows I'd love a call-up," he admits.

"I've asked the FAI to process the transfer. I'll wait for my clearance to come through and would be delighted to be part of the Ireland squad for the Euro 2020 campaign if selected."

"I had a strong Irish upbringing and spent most of my childhood summers playing sports in Tramore, Co Waterford," added Crowley.

"Ireland was always the team I supported at international level. I was young at the time but I remember crying my eyes out when Spain won that penalty shoot-out at the 2002 World Cup.

"England is a country I love because I grew up there and my friends live there. I wore a lot of kits as a youngster but never owned an England kit."

Irish Independent

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