Former Derry City defender Niall Logue hopes to follow in cousin Daniel Lafferty's footsteps
After a few tough years, Derry man Niall Logue hopes 2021 can be a positive year on and off the football pitch.
The 25-year-old defender, recently signed a two year deal with United Soccer League (USL) Championship side, El Paso Locomotive, and admits he hopes to follow in his cousin Daniel Lafferty’s footsteps during his career in the professional ranks.
Logue played for four years at Institute before making his first move to America in 2014 to play college soccer at Yavapai College in Arizona. He played for two years before transferring to Ohio State University.
Prior to his move to FC Tucson in 2020, there was a brief sabbatical back home when the Gobnascale man donned the colours of his home town club, Derry City, before switching to north west rivals Finn Harps to play his part in the Donegal club’s promotion back into the Premier Division in 2019 and he feels those two campaigns have helped progress his career and left him fully prepared for life with Tucson.
“I really enjoyed my time at both Derry and Harps,” explains Niall, “I’ll always be grateful to Kenny Shiels for giving me my debut for Derry and while I felt I probably deserved to play more games, I moved onto Harps and Ollie (Horgan) was also great.
“I would say those few seasons back in the League of Ireland helped me no end, especially when I came back to America to play with Tucson. It was an invaluable experience.”
While things on the pitch could scarcely have gone better for Niall in Ballybofey, away from football tragedy struck when his mother, Jacqueline, passed away following a brave battle against illness. Her passing was a hammer blow for the tightly knit Logue family but Niall believes his mother’s spirit continues to guide him and the family and remains a constant presence in their lives.
During his time in Ohio, Niall met his now wife, Kelsey Lee, and he reveals she has been his rock during a tough few years.
“It was tough when my mother died, I think about her everyday,” he reveals. “But I know she’s proud of me, my sister (Rachel) and our whole family. I know she’s looking down on all of us. I know that she wants me to be happy with all the decisions I make and I feel her presence.
“Kelsey really has been my rock ever since I moved to America and especially over the last few years, she means the world to me.”
The USL has been the United States’ second professional division since 2017, placing it under Major League Soccer in the American soccer hierarchy and while last season was an unique campaign because of the coronavirus pandemic, Logue still played a major role at Tucson where he set a club record he says he’ll cherish forever.
“Personally I felt it went really well,” he admits, “Obviously to come in a bit later, pick up the captaincy and then to play every minute of every game, I think I’m the only person in the club’s history to do that so to be part of a club’s history is a special moment for me in my career.
“As a team I felt we finished the season well. To be honest we are the furthest team to the West out here in League One and we have to fly to every away game. Our closet away game was a two hour flight to Dallas, Texas. For our first six games five of them were away which meant us having to fly half way across the country and back, then train for a couple of days before flying away again. That took a lot out of everybody.
“Plus with it being such a new team and the manager being in his first year as manager after stepping up from assistant manager, there were so many factors that played into the equation and I felt that while we never got blown away in any games, we sometimes were out own worst enemies. We were just lacking that bit of consistency and quality at certain times in games.
“After the mid-way point of the season, whenever we started having a lot more home games and stuff, things started to come together much better. We had a lot less travel and our bodies started to recover faster. We went on an unbeaten streak for a while and eventually just narrowly missed out on the play-offs.”
Now that he has signed a two year deal with El Paso Locomotive, the ex-Top of the Hill starlet can’t wait to meet his new team-mates, one of which will be former Sligo Rovers midfielder, Richie Ryan, who’s back in Texas for another campaign.
In fact, Logue has confirmed that close friend and ex-Derry City, Glentoran and Institute striker, Stephen Parkhouse, has already been in touch with his former Sligo Rovers team-mate to ensure the fellow Waterside man gets settled into life in El Paso.
“I have confidence in my own ability and I believe I’m good enough to play at a higher level, that’s why I made the move to El Paso Locomotive. It’s going to be another tough season and one that I hope to learn new experiences and stuff.
“I can’t wait to get going, meet the players, meet everyone at the club and play in front of a packed house at Southwest University Park.
“I haven’t met Richie but from what Parky has told me via my cousin (Colin Logue) he’s a quality player and great bloke off the pitch. He has already been in touch with me and he’ll help me settle in.
“Parky told Colin all about him and he has told me, so I’m looking forward to playing with him.”
Logue’s says if he can achieve even half the success his celebrated cousin, Daniel Lafferty, has had during his professional career he will be delighted. Indeed he is in regular contact with the former Northern Ireland international for advice, especially now that Danny is back home after signing for Derry City.
“Daniel is always someone whom I have always looked up to, he always gives me good advice,” he adds. “If I can have half of the success he has had throughout his career, then I know I’ll have had a good career.
“Daniel has played for Northern Ireland and for a host of clubs in England. He’s won promotion with the likes of Burnley and Sheffield United and even in the last few years he won the FAI Cup and the Premier League with Shamrock Rovers and that Rovers team was unreal last season. So, yeah, I’m always on the phone with him, trying to get as much advice from as possible.
“I’m delighted that he has joined Derry again. Hopefully he can help bring success back to the Brandywell.”