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New boy Morris reaps rewards after switch

By Paul Ferguson

Northern Ireland new boy Callum Morris has joined a unique club in international football, thanks to his Belfast-born dad, Gery.

The Aberdeen defender, from Newcastle upon Tyne, initially played for the Republic of Ireland, having qualified through his mum, a Waterford native, at under-19 and under-21 level. But in a rare move five years ago he switched allegiance to Northern Ireland.

And it was during this time he needed wise counsel from his father to make sure he continued in the game after he fell out of love with football following his release from Newcastle United.

Now he is reaping the rewards of his decision to opt for Northern Ireland having been called into Michael O'Neill's squad as a late replacement for tomorrow's World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic in Prague.

"It was probably about five years ago that I got the call from Northern Ireland because at that stage I could still pay for the Under-21s," admits centre back Morris, who was surprised to receive the call up last Tuesday.

"I was asked if I'd be interested in switching over and I thought it was a great opportunity so I went with it. But the clearance took a while to go through and by the time it did, I was too old. Since then, I've just been playing away under the radar.

"I spoke to the manager a while back and I think I was on standby a couple of times but this is the first time I've been involved properly."

Being involved in international football is a massive turnaround in the 26-year-old's career.

Morris really thought he'd hit rock bottom after leaving St James' Park and could only get a game in the Northern League for Morpeth Town.

But then came a call from Dunfermline Athletic and words of encouragement from Dad.

Morris concedes: "I've been right to the bottom. I was on the brink of quitting football altogether at one stage but then the opportunity came to go up to Dunfermline and I've kicked on and got the bug again.

"I was probably about 21, playing for a friend's team in the Northern League and I kind of fell out of love with it all.

"But I got the opportunity to go to Dunfermline for a week and after a day they offered me a contract and that was me back in full-time football.

"It's been a tough journey but it shows if you stick in what can happen. My dad, Gery, in particular, was a big believer in me and when I could have gone part-time he told me to keep going.

"He said to exhaust every avenue but when the call came (from Dunfermline) I wasn't going go, However it shows you how much a 20-minute conversation can change everything.

"That's how it goes and how I've come out the other side and things are on the up."

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