The Ireland trend in North America continues with Dublin born Chris Harrington. The Midfielder has most recently been pivotal in guiding Niagara United to the Canadian Soccer League (CSL) play-offs. With United preparing hard, Mr Harrington took time out for a chat with soccernightexclusive.wordpress.com about the regular season and his desire to test himself in the MLS.

First and foremost for the readers who are unfamiliar with you, what type of player are you and what are your strengths ?

I’m a defensive midfielder who protects the back four and I am able to distribute the ball well. I have a good engine very similar to Genaro Gattusso.

What age did you start and how did you get into soccer ?

I’ve been playing since I can remember, I’ve always loved it. I remember when my Dad took me to train with a local schoolboy team in my area and from that first session I never looked back.

Have you always wanted to become a soccer player ?

Yes always, I have never thought about doing anything else. I’ve always tried to work hard every day to make it happen.

During your growing up stages as a soccer player who would you say has been your biggest inspiration ?

I’ve been blessed to have had a lot of great coaches and played alongside some great players along the way. But I would definitely have to say my Dad was my biggest inspiration, always been there when I needed the right advice.

Which club in Ireland did you begin you soccer career with ?

Well as a schoolboy I started with St Josephs Boys, but my career really started going places when I signed for Shelbourne FC.

How did your move to Canada come about ?

During college I played in the USL and PSL for a team in Canada. From then I got to know some of the professional clubs and after graduating I was offered a contract here in Canada.

How long did it take you to settle into life in Canada ?

To be honest it didn’t take too long at all, the club I signed for, the people were absolutely brilliant, including the owner and everyone was very helpful, accommodating and always willing to go that extra yard.

You now play for Niagara United in the CSL. What is the standard of soccer like in the league ?

The standard is very good, at first as a new player in the league I didn’t know what to expect. But after giving it time it’s been a pleasure to play for the teams I have and against some very good sides and individual players.

Niagara United clinched a play-off spot on the last day of the regular season, how did it feel to achieve this in the inaugural season ?

It was obviously a huge achievement given we are a first year franchise and are on a shoestring budget. To get ahead of some well-established sides and players who have previously won the league was kind of surreal. Personally I was delighted for the players and most of all the fans.

Did you set any personal targets at the start of the season and have you achieved them ?

Personally I set a goal for myself to play and start every single game, as well as helping the franchise make the play-offs. However due to suspension I have missed a couple but overall I feel I’ve achieved what I set out to do.

Can Niagara United surprise people in the play-offs and win the CSL Championship ?

I believe with the players we have anything is possible, we never know when we are beaten and continue to keep going. Obviously we play the top seed in CSL, but we drew 0-0 at home and could of nicked the game at their place even though we lost 3-1 in the end, after having a man sent off. So if we play to our potential then I fully believe we have the ability to defeat anyone.

What would you say has been the main benefactor for Niagara to achieve what they have ?

I believe it stems from the characters we have on the team and the talent too. Overall we are a balanced side that always plays to the final whistle.

Are there any high profile names currently plying their trade in the CSL ?

The CSL have got a lot of lads that have come from Europe, top scorer Drazen Vukovic was previously with Hadjuk Split. Stephen Ademolu from Windsor Stars was in Europe playing for teams in Sweden and Norway. So the league has a lot of good players with experience.

What is the franchise looking to achieve next season or is that looking too far ahead ?

Next season I believe with getting to the play-offs this season we have set a standard now so obviously that will be the aim next season. Also to integrate some of the reserve lads into the first team and the U20 players into the reserve side. And continuing to develop younger players for the first team here at Niagara United.

Head Coach James McGillivray is a Scotsmen born and bred, what would you say is his playing philosophy as well as his attributes as a person ?

His playing philosophy in general is to try and possess the ball and get it forward as quickly as possible. Also to be hard to breakdown when we are not in possession of the soccer ball.

As a person he is a good family man with a passion to develop players and win games of soccer.

From our previous chat we spoke about Enda Stevens who is currently at Aston Villa. How did you two meet ?

Well I have actually played against Enda a few times back home in Ireland. When I was at Dublin City U’21 I was called up into the first team a couple of times in the Airtricity Premier Division and knew him from there.

Do you think he is good enough for the English Premiership ?

I do, we have seen a lot of the lads go from the Airtricity Premier Division and hold their own in the Premiership. The likes of Kevin Doyle (Wolves), Shane Long (West Brom), Stephen Ward (Wolves) and Keith Fahey (Birmingham City). So yes once he gets a consistent run he will do well.

Do you keep in touch with the likes of Enda Stevens and Kevin Doyle ?

Not really just the odd congrats on twitter, I tend to keep more in touch with lads who play in the MLS or other leagues in North America.

Talking of the MLS, do you have ambitions to play there in the future ?

Absolutely, that’s the aim, it is very tough being a foreigner but it is an ambition as I know I can play their as I have played with lads at PDL level that have gone onto play in the MLS.

What players are them ?

Tommy Heinneman – Columbus Crew, Darren O’Dea – Toronto FC and Ryan Guy- New England Revolution.

Do you follow any MLS team in particular ?

I’ am a Toronto FC fan unfortunately but am partial to the Revs as me good friend is there.

Where would you like to see your career in five years’ time ?

Ideally I’d like to be established in the MLS but if not then in Europe definitely.

What advice would you give to any youngsters looking to follow in your footsteps ?

Work hard and believe in yourself and follow your dreams. Nothing is given to you, you have to earn it. But belief is huge. Self-belief and hard work is massive too.

Best Game Played In

Got to be the Conference Final in my senior year in college. We played Simon Fraser who were ranked number three in the nation. We had two men sent off and managed to get the game to extra time and penalties. In the end we won the game meaning we were going to the National Championships for the first time in the school’s history. It was an unreal game and achievement.

Best Goal Scored

Got to be a 25 yard volley in college against a top team when we were tied 1-1. The ball was cleared from a corner, I caught it perfect and it hit the post before hitting the back of the net.

Best Player Played Against

Tough one….. Tyrone Marshall (Colorado Rapids), Keith Fahey with Birmingham City. I’d say Keith Fahey though.

Best Player Played Alongside

There has been a lot but I’d have to give this one to Tommy Heinneman (Columbus Crew). He is a super player and you know when you give him the ball he won’t give it away.

Best Friend In Soccer

Would probably be my former GM and former London City owner Ryan Gauss.

Favourite Stadium

Probably Stade Saputo (Montreal Impact) but I am partial to Tolka Park Dublin.

Team Supported Growing Up

Manchester United.

Favourite Food

Shepherd’s Pie.

Favourite Drink

Got to be Lucozade Original.

Favourite Film

Remember The Titans.

Favourite TV Show

Match Of The Day.

Favourite Holiday Destination

Been blessed to have a few great ones but I’ am going to with Panama City Beach.

Favourite Music

Right now Tinie Tempah is the man.

First Car

Nissan Frontier.

Hobbies And Interest Outside Of Soccer

Fishing, Gym and Watching American Football.

What Would You Do If You Won $1million

I would by my family a new house and then donate the rest to my mate Pascal Millie’s charity in Haiti.

 Teammates-Niagara United

Loudest

Matthew Waddington and Tony Mermigas.

Quietest

Arthur Casuspanan.

Best Trainer

Going to it to Me.

Worse Trainer

Definitely Matthew Waddington. The lad is on another planet.

Biggest Joker

Again Matthew Waddington.

Most Intelligent

I want to say Matthew Waddington but I don’t know if its intelligence or borderline craziness.

Least Intelligent

Michael Palomba. (Sorry Mate)

Most Skilful

Jay Devonish.

Worse Taste In Music

Matt Cain, (The Rocker Stuff Is Brutal)

Worse Dress Sense

Again, Michael Palomba.

I would like to personally thank Chris Harrington for his time and efforts during the interview process.

By Anthony Bedworth

@maplesoccer123

@usbritain05

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