Meenlaragh native Joe Coll insists he has no regrets after his decision to part company with Manchester United.
The 18-year-old opted to leave the Premier League giants after a season with the club’s academy when he got scant few chances to show his worth and he now hopes to forge a career in football somewhere else across the channel. Coll will return to England this coming Wednesday to undertake at least one trial and is optimistic.
“I had a frustrating season at United’s academy with the lack of opportunities so spoke to the management there and decided to consider my options,” said Coll.
“A loan was more or less out of the question as I’m still relatively inexperienced and there’s a lot of hassle as a youth player if you’re trying to get back to the Airtricity League. I weighed up the pros and cons of everything and took the decision to move on. At United they look after you well but they have so many options.”
Coll joined United two years ago and having completed his two-year scholarship was on the verge of starting as a first year professional this term.
However, Coll, who previously played since he was a six-year-old with Glenea United - the club his father Tom currently manages - said had have’ve opted to sign as a professional it would’ve deter potential suitors.
“To improve as a goalkeeper you have to be playing to learn and I wouldn’t mind if I was playing for Glenea United or Manchester United,” he said.
“I decided not to sign as a pro as when you’re a pro you’re always a pro. Clubs that might have been interested in me could’ve been put off if I was a pro and that played a part in my decision. I thought the best thing to do was make myself a free agent.”
Coll’s parting company was this week confirmed by United, along with former Liverpool and Real Madrid striker Michael Owen, Tomas Kuszczak and another underage goalkeeper, Liam Jacob, who wasn’t offered a contract at the end of last season.
Coll, who played underage Gaelic football for Cloughaneely and helped them to the U-16 county championship in 2009 before moving to England, played seven times last season for the United academy side as well as making the substitutes’ bench for the club’s reserve team.
Kuszczak, Dane Anders Lindegaard, Ben Amos and Sam Johnstone all played for United’s second string last term.
Several clubs approached Coll after he was spotted by a Charlton scout playing in the Kennedy Cup competition for Donegal in Limerick as a 13-year-old.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Wolves, Newcastle, Spurs, Manchester City and Celtic showed interest, but Sir Alex Ferguson convinced him his future lay at United. Coll has also represented the Republic of Ireland at U-15, U-16 and U-17 level so his abilities are already well known.
“I’m looking forward to the fresh start,” Coll said. “I’m going to England next week looking to find a club. All I want is a chance to show what I can do and it takes a week at a trail for a club to see that. I know I’ve taken a gamble but hopefully everything will work out.”