Jake Carroll on huge Celtic interest in Ireland as Motherwell star admits pals only watch him if he plays Parkhead side

Irish players don’t grow up wanting to play for Motherwell.

If it’s not the Old Firm or anywhere in England, most talented youngsters from the Republic probably don’t give Scottish football a second thought.

But Jake Carroll reckons that might be changing. Certainly, if his experience of him is anything to go by, he’d encourage anyone with ambitions of playing in the UK to head north.

The 30-year-old defender has sampled the English game at Huddersfield, Bury, Hartlepool and Cambridge United. But he’s never been happier than at Fir Park.

And while loads of boys he grew up with dreamt of a big move to Celtic, he will at least share a pitch with the Hoops today as a key man for Graham Alexander’s side.

Carroll wasn’t too enamored by life south of the border – on or off the pitch.

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But after signing a new deal at Well, he’s loving life in Lanarkshire and says the warmth of the Scottish people – as well as the football – is worth hanging around for.

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As he prepared to face Celtic, the Irishman said: “In England you play Saturday, Tuesday every week and it’s dog eat dog.

“I’ve played a lot near the bottom of League Two and there’s not a lot of football played there. I’ve experienced the English Championship as well, which was good.

“But being Irish, the people here remind me of back home – they’re similar, down to earth. That’s important, especially outside football.

“The further south I went in England, I was more out of my comfort zone.

“I came on loan to Partick Thistle and loved it for six months. I knew I’d enjoy it here if I ever came back – and that’s away from football as well.

“I don’t want to generalize the south of England but everyone’s in their own bubble. It’s little things. If you’re walking your dog, people don’t say hello.

“Up here, people say good morning. It’s just manners.

“People are more welcoming here, down to earth. They have good crack and banter. And I like the Scottish sense of humor – anything in the Scottish accent is funny!

“For young players in Ireland it’s always England – unless it’s Celtic or Rangers. But you’ve seen more come to Scottish clubs recently with Ross Tierney here at Motherwell and St Johnstone signing a couple from Ireland.

“When I was growing up it was unknown really for someone from Ireland to make such a move.”

Carroll believes the Premiership doesn’t get the credit it deserves, particularly from observers down south.

He admits it can be frenetic at times but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

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The Motherwell man said: “I love it here, I’m settled. Since I came to the UK I’ve had two years at clubs and then found another challenge.

“But this is the place I’ve felt most comfortable. I enjoy it here, I like the people around the club and the Scottish league suits me.

“That’s why I signed my new contract because I’m happy to be here.

“Even when big stars come up here from the Premier League, they’re shocked by how quick the game is. It’s quite frantic but I like that. I expected the refs to be a bit more lenient, right enough – I’ve got into trouble too many times!

“But it’s passionate up here. There’s a lot of interest in the game here, I don’t think you see that when you’re in England. Until you’re up here, you don’t realize how big it is and what it means to the fans. I love it here.”

Carroll is still proud of where he comes from and hasn’t given up hope of one day earning a full cap for the Republic of Ireland.

Impressing against Celtic this afternoon will certainly help his cause.

And he admits these games against Ange Postecoglou ‘s side are the ones everyone from home wants to see.

Carroll, who hails from Lucan in Dublin, said: “Celtic are massive where I come from. That’s why the Irish league struggles a little bit.

“Someone is always going to support Celtic and Liverpool or Celtic and Manchester United. It’s one English team and one Scottish team.

“There’s more interest in me back home when I’m playing Celtic. I think they only watch me when it’s them.

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“When I’ve had a good run in the past, there have been rumors about a national team call-up.

“I’d love to play for my country and I’ll never give up on that until I retire.

“If I’m playing games then I’ve got a chance. I’ve just got to try to stay in the team here and see where it takes me.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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