Dungannon Swifts teenager Darren Robinson has become the latest young player to move to England from the Irish League.
The 16-year-old midfielder has joined English Championship side Derby County on a three-year professional deal just days after making his senior debut for the Swifts in Saturday’s final game of the season against Glenavon.
He’s the latest young player from the County Tyrone club to make the move across the Irish Sea. The highest profile in recent years is new Northern Ireland international Conor Bradley, the Liverpool full-back having come off the bench against Malta on Sunday evening.
He made the move two years ago, when the Swifts’ Sean McAllister joined Everton, Aaron Donelly moved to Nottingham Forest and Vicky Saldanha was off to Birmingham City.
Robinson will be aiming to become the next Bradley as he makes his own move into full-time football, having also attracted interest from Fleetwood Town and Michael O’Neill’s Stoke City.
“It’s all I’ve wanted to do ever since I started playing football, to get over the water, I’m over the moon to sign for Derby,” he said.
"I’ve loved every minute of my time here at Dungannon. Dixie (Robinson – Head of Youth Development), Keith (Boyd – chairman) and everyone else have treated me so well. It’s been a great experience training with the first team.
“I chose Derby firstly because the facilities are excellent and the place itself is nice too. I felt more at home there.”
Dixie Robinson continues to oversee the successful conveyor belt of talent in the club’s underage system as is predicting a big future for his latest export.
“Darren has been excellent ever since he has came in,” Dixie said. “He got the chance to go over to Fleetwood in the winter and he asked could he train with the (Dungannon) first team due to COVID restrictions. To be fair to him he has trained so well he has stayed with the first team since. Robbo has also been over at Stoke and most recently Derby.
“Darren has a great attitude, works tremendously hard, technically very good and he gets about the pitch and I’ve no doubt, with the mindset that he has, I think he will go a long way in the game.”