THERE was a time when the only soccer players coming out of Donegal were goalkeepers, like Packie Bonner and Shay Given.
But the times are a changin’ and soon the Irish defence may be made up of men from the Hills.
Killybegs native Seamus Coleman is now a Premier League star with Everton and has cemented his position in the Ireland team.
Ireland U21 international Carl McHugh, who hails from Lettermacaward, helped Bradford City reach the League Cup final and win promotion to League 1 this season. No surprise then that he has been tipped for full international honours in the future.
Shane Duffy another Everton player was born in Derry but his father is from Donegal and the Scottish born midfield duo of James McCarthy and Aiden McGeady qualify through grandparents from the county where Sam Mcguire currently resides.
Hoping to follow in their footsteps is 18-year-old Norwich City defender Kyle Callan-McFadden from Remelton, who is the latest starlet to emerge from Donegal.
The no nonsense centre back was handed an extension to his contract with Norwich by manager Chris Hughton after playing a vital role in the clubs Youth Cup Final win against Chelsea.
Speaking to The Irish Post before heading home for a few weeks, the youngster reflected on how much his life has changed since moving across the water as a fresh faced 16-year-old.
He said: “I love it at Norwich. The club is great and the area reminds me a lot of home.
“I had quite a few options when I was younger. Leicester City, Blackburn Rovers and Burnley all wanted me and I trained with Aston Villa and Falkirk but Norwich was the club I wanted to join. It reminded me of Donegal, the training ground is out in the countryside.
“My girlfriend, Ellie Greensitt is from Norwich and if I ever want to go home it isn’t an issue. Chris Hughton has been brilliant with me since he came in as manager.
“He has shown a lot more interest in the youth team than Paul Lambert did and I know I can always go to the manager about any problems I may be having or to ask where I need to improve my game.
“He is an Irish legend and as a Spurs fan I’m well aware what he achieved as a player.
“He has told me he doesn’t have another centre back like me at the club and has said he thinks I could do a job as a defensive midfielder.”
The confident teenager won the FAI U16 Player of the Year award and admits he was surprised to have won it ahead of Sam Byrne of Manchester United and Jack Grealish, who is making headlines with Aston Villa.
Shay Given congratulated the youngster and Callan-McFadden is confident he has what it takes to have a successful career for both club and country.
He said: “The dream is one day to captain both Spurs and Ireland. I really rate Michael Dawson and I hope to play in the Champions League as well as European Championships and World Cup tournaments for my country.”
He may be a few years off making the breakthrough to the senior Irish squad but he is backing his Norwich City team mate, Wes Hoolahan to play a major role in the remainder of the 2014 World Cup qualification campaign.
He said: “It does help having another Irish player at the club. I get on really well with Wes, we have a good laugh but the other boys reckon they can’t understand a thing we do be saying to each other once we get going.
“He is a quality player and it’s difficult to understand why he doesn’t start games for Ireland but Trapattoni is very defensive minded.
“My target next season is to try and get on the bench or play in the League Cup for Norwich.
“We’ve a couple of nippy wingers, the Murphy twins, Josh and Jacob who made the bench in the Capital One Cup last season. They’ve Irish surnames but they are not Irish at all.
“The one lad in the team who might end up playing for Ireland is the captain Cameron McGeehan. He has played for Northern Ireland but I think he might be interested in switching to us.”