GALWAY soccer star Ryan Manning completed his move to English Premier League side Queens Park Rangers yesterday (Thursday), signing a two and a half year contract with the West London club.
The Irish U-19 international completed his medical last week, and flew back to London on Wednesday in order to clear up the final pieces of paperwork before putting pen to paper with Harry Redknapp’s side, boosting an Irish contingent at the club that includes former Irish international, Richard Dunne.
The Cregmore teenager’s move to an English side has long being predicted – despite having to juggle both international duty with the Irish U-19 side, and studying for his Leaving Cert, in 2014, he was still one of Galway FC’s outstanding players as they won promotion to the Premier Division via the play-offs at the first time of asking.
It was thought that Everton was going to be his ultimate destination – the Merseyside club had sent club scouts to watch him on a number of occasions in the past year – but speaking to City Sport on Wednesday night from his hotel room in London, Manning said the fact QPR moved so decisively made it an easy decision for him.
“I was in Oranmore one Sunday night a few weeks ago with a few of my friends, and when I got home, Dad said QPR had phoned and wanted to meet me. We travelled over the following Wednesday for a chat and a look around the ground and facilities and that was it really.
“Myself and Dad met with Harry Redknapp and Les Ferdinand [the club’s Head of Football operations]in Harry’s office and we had a chat for a few hours and got on very well. Everton were over a few times to look at me playing, and Tottenham Hotspur were interested as well, but I just felt QPR was a better opportunity for me, and yeah, the fact they were so keen obviously made a difference as well – phoning on a Sunday and having me over within a few days for a chat,” Manning explained on Wednesday night.
It can often be the subtle things that make a difference, and you have to imagine the fact that Ferdinand himself made sure Manning and his father, Phelim, got to Heathrow Airport on time to make their flight back to Ireland did not go unnoticed by the pair.
“It was funny, after the chat we had to get to the airport to catch our flight, but we couldn’t get a taxi. We were being told it would take up to 45 minutes, and we were getting a bit anxious as we were in danger of missing our flight, but Les walked past and said he was heading that way, so we got a lift with him to the airport in his Range Rover and made it on time!” Manning said.
He admits that becoming a full-time professional footballer is the realisation of a boyhood dream, but he is also mature enough to know that there is a lot of hard work ahead of him as he bids to make his mark with his new club.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.