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03rd May 2023

Dublin star on trials with Leicester City and choosing GAA over soccer

Lee Costello

GAA soccer

He had trials for Leicester City and Blackburn.

Former Dublin star Kevin Nolan had an incredible career that seen him win every trophy at club and county, but he also had the chance to play soccer for Leicester City.

The Kilmacud Crokes native, like many athletes growing up in the city, had a keen interest in both sports, and eventually had to make a final decision between the two.

However, his talent in soccer was not entirely natural, he really had to work hard on it, and was even dropped from the first team in his younger years.

Speaking on the latest episode of the GAA Hour, Nolan talks about his upbringing playing soccer, and why he eventually chose Gaelic football.

GAA soccer

“Soccer would have been my first sport, I would have played with St Joseph’s boys, and I was dropped to the seconds, and I needed a bit of resilience, something that I’m keen to develop with the development squads that I work with now.

“Things don’t go your way sometimes, things that you have no control over, and you literally have to get on with it. So I was dropped to the second team, captained that team, had a good season, came second in the league by a point.

“The manager of the first team asked me back up, I said no, and I stayed with the second team for another year and built on the communication skills on the field, and maybe off it, leadership skills – things like that.

GAA soccer

“I was building on the resilience that when things don’t go your way, then work that bit harder. I would have been brought back up, I think was under 16s, and then the following year I was over with Leicester City on the trials.”

With such a drastic turnaround in fortunes, it seemed like doors were opening in every direction for the 2011 All-Ireland winner.

“There was a lot of scouts around at the time, Alan Judge would have went over to Blackburn at the time, he was the Irish Messi until he broke his leg a number of years ago, and didn’t make the Irish team for the Euros.

“We would have gone over together, to Leicester and Blackburn, but the second trial with Leicester coincided with a Leinster league match with Dublin.

GAA soccer

“John Horan was the manager of the minor squad, and he left it up to me to make the decision, if I wanted to play centre back for the team against Meath, or go over for the second trial.¬†I decided to stick with Dublin and that was that.

“I played centre-half, was a big Man United fan so if you think of Rio Ferdinand and Vidic, I would have been the Vidic of it, the no-nonsense, throw the mallet of a head at the ball and get rid of it, more so than a ball playing centre-half.

“I would have really enjoyed the soccer, still love it, but never really played it after that because I was so invested in Gaelic football at club and county.

“It’s probably one of the only regrets that I have is that I didn’t actually give its full go, but with the way that Gaelic football has worked out for me, I cant really have any complaints.”

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