In December 2016, Irish midfielder Dylan McGlade made the move from League of Ireland side St Patrick’s Athletic to First Division outfit Longford Town.
After a difficult season at the Inchicore club, McGlade saw an opportunity to play regular first team football and moved to Longford Town, where he has started in each of The Town’s four league games so far.
“I just really liked what the guys (at Longford Town) had to say, ” began McGlade. “I was just really excited to get back and playing regular football again.”
Playing week in week out at this stage of his career is key for the Swords native who, at just 21, has already experienced more in football than his tender age suggests.
Having impressed for Shelbourne’s underage side, McGlade was scouted by then championship club Middlesbrough in 2011, signing for the Teessiders at the age of 16.
“It was actually the final of the League Cup against Joeys (St Joseph’s Boys AFC Sallynoggin) where there were a lot of Ireland scouts and a lot of scouts from Premier League teams and stuff like that.” he explained.
“I just had a really good game and it kind of all kicked on from there, like there was a lot of managers coming to watch and Middlesbrough were one of them that were interested and they kind of brought me over, I think I’d been there maybe 3 days and they offered me a contract.”
Despite being one of the most promising players in the academy McGlade admitted that at times he found life at the Championship club tough conceding that perhaps the move came too early into his career.
“Looking back now like I didn’t really like it, I wasn’t enjoying football, a new u18 manager came in when I was away on an Ireland trip and I came back and just didn’t get along, just things weren’t going right and then I got injured and stuff like that so, looking back on it I do kind of wish I went over a little bit later.”
After two years at Boro, one of which was marred by a serious injury, McGlade was released by the club, a decision that the young midfielder understandably found frustrating.
“It was more kind of anger than anything” began McGlade, “I was more angry and I didn’t understand, I thought I would’ve been one of the better players in my age group.
“It was just very frustrating to have gotten such a bad injury and to have fought my way back and then for nothing to happen, for it to be for no reason kind of thing, and not even being given the chance to show what I can do.”
As a player McGlade is quick, creative and has an eye for goal, the kind of player that possess the spark to change a game in an instant. Following his release from Middlesbrough his signature was unsurprisingly in high demand.
Trials with the likes of Birmingham and Burnley followed, but it was League 1 club Oxford United who offered McGlade a contract.
“I went to Oxford a week after I’d finished with Burnley and I was offered a contract. I played a reserve game with them and the reserve manager really liked me and they asked me to stay on for another week and play another game so that the first team manager could come, so he came and he really liked me so they offered me a contract.”
McGlade outlined how his “early years in football” were some of the “most unlucky years” he’s had in his career. If anything epitomises this, it’s McGlade’s brief association with Oxford United.
“Ryan Williams was there at the time on loan from Fulham and his loan deal was finishing in the January window so they were kind of bringing me in as a replacement for him.” he explained.
“As I’m getting my bags packed on Wednesday to get the train down (to Oxford) that night, I got a call from the assistant manager and he was like ‘look the owner’s come back and said there’s not enough funds there’, they thought that there was but there wasn’t funds so the deal couldn’t be done.”
The ex-Middlesbrough man was told by Oxford to go back to Ireland, train, keep fit, and in January when the funds became available, he would return to the club. McGlade signed on amateur forms for Shelbourne under 19s and was playing a cup game just 3 weeks before he was supposed to sign for Oxford when disaster struck.
“I think it was maybe 3 weeks before I was due to go back over to Oxford and I broke my leg in an u19s cup game so that just kind of like scuppered everything that happened and I mean that injury kept me out for over a year. That kind of like ruined everything for a while. Just completely gutted.”
Completely gutted. Despite McGlade’s setbacks he continued working hard in Ireland and his breakout season for Shelbourne in January 2015 (which saw him scoring 4 times in 21 appearances and make the PFAI First Division team of the year) led to a move to Dublin giants St Patrick’s Athletic at the end of 2015, before his subsequent switch to Longford Town.
At only 21 years of age it’s easy to forget how young McGlade is to the game. Regardless of what has come before, the Longford Town man still has his sights set on football’s top level.
“I’ve always said I’ll give myself until I’m 26” he begins, “If I don’t make it at a ,top top level, whether that be in England or a different country because I’m not really bothered if I go back to England.”
“I would go to Switzerland or Sweden or anywhere like that because I just like playing pro football so I will go anywhere but if I don’t get anywhere by 26 I will probably start looking to go down the other avenues that I plan to later on in my career.”
Regardless of what the future holds the important thing now for McGlade is playing regularly and enjoying his football, something that he seems to have found at Longford Town.
“I think there’s a lot of people especially in football that will look down on you for having big dreams” McGlade concludes, “but at the end of the day like whatever you want to do you need to go and push yourself to go do it.”