DERRY City’s Shane McEleney has decided to change his allegiance and make the switch to Northern Ireland.
The big centre-back, who has represented the Republic of Ireland at under-age level and more recently under 21 level, feels he will get a better chance of playing at the highest level with Northern Ireland.
Only last month McEleney played and indeed scored for Stephen Robinson’s U21 side during their friendly defeat to Hungary in Tatabanya.
It looks like that experience and having several chats with former Shamrock Rovers and current Northern Ireland senior manager Michael O’Neill has led to the 21-year-old’s change of heart.
“Northern Ireland came in there a couple of months ago and offered me to pledge my allegiance to them and I was more than happy to do that,” he insisted.
“I haven’t been really selected for the Republic of Ireland and I want to be playing international football, as it’s good for your CV and good for your career, so when Northern Ireland came in there a couple of months ago I was more than happy, because as I have said I wasn’t featuring with the Republic of Ireland.
“I’m more than happy with the move and I’m looking forward to settling my international career with Northern Ireland.
“I met Michael (O’Neill) a couple of times and he’s a top man, he’s a nice fella and he had a good word to say about me and a good word to say about the back room staff and how things were working and how things were going to progress in the future, so I was more than happy with what was happening.
“Personally I was over the moon to score a goal and play 45 minutes out in Hungary and now I’m looking forward to playing for Northern Ireland and I can’t wait.”
Only last year McEleney’s former Brandywell team-mate James McClean made the opposite high profile switch and the defender believes he too has made the right decision for his career and is already hoping his international clearance comes through in time.
“I make my own decisions, I don’t speak to no one apart from my mother and father and we were all happy with the decision I have made and like I say I’m just looking forward to playing football.
“Firstly I have to get my international clearance in and I think we have a game later this month, so hopefully we can get that sorted before then , if not there is a game against England in November and I can play in that, so it’s onwards and upwards from here and I’m more than happy with my decision.”