Oz teen Murphy's dream dashed by red tape

YOUNG Queensland footballer Eoghan Murphy is heading back to Europe in July to try his luck again despite enduring a nightmare experience in the UK with Sheffield Wednesday.

The 18-year old defender moved to England in July of 2012 to join the English Championship side.

But a botched attempt by the Owls to process his international clearance meant Murphy missed the registration window and he was restricted to just bit-part football and rare reserve friendlies.

Murphy returned to Australia last month after a difficult 18-month spell following his arrival in Sheffield in mid-2012 as a 16-year old for a series of meetings with the club.

“[They were] about how they were going to go about getting my clearance and they came to an agreement just after Christmas [2012], that they were going to give me a pro contract,” Murphy said. 

“That would start on my 18th, which was in September 2013, and that my clearance would come through automatically when I turned 18.

"At the time I just went with what they said because I thought they should know what they were doing.

"But a week before my 18th I approached them about it and they told me that they didn't realise but when you go from an amateur to a pro contract, you have to apply for clearance in a transfer window,

"At that point I had already been just over a year without playing a league game. 

"I stayed on for another couple of months waiting to see what they were going to do but I'd had enough of not getting quality game time.”

Murphy, a Gold Coast Stars junior, unsuccessfully tried to find an A-League to trial with at the end of last year.

“Finding a club obviously didn't work out so I had to make the tough decision of whether or not to come back home and play in the National Premier League, where I'd be playing week in-week-out, or to just stay over there where all I could do was train,” he said.

“It was a tough experience for me being away from home and not having any control over the political side of things.

"The club assured me for a good year that they had it under control and I put my trust in them and it backfired for me.”

Murphy was born in Ireland but moved to the Gold Coast as a youngster. A holder of both Irish and Australian passports, he played in Gold Coast representative teams until the age of 15 and then in the Queensland Soccer League before his UK move.

Now with Brisbane Olympic, Murphy is a central defender who is also comfortable at left back.

He claims he was told by Sheffield Wednesday not to involve his agent in his international clearance situation.

“When I first signed with my agent in March just when they offered me a pro contract they told me many times to keep him out of the clearance situation and let them handle it as they assured me and my agent that they had it under control,” Murphy said.

“When my agent found out about the situation obviously he was furious as they assured him that they had it under control and that they weren't going to apply for the clearance in the transfer window in January and give me the opportunity to play and to get another contract. 

“You need to seek approval from the country that you've played football in since the age of 12 so it was FFA, but my mum had contacted all the clubs I've played for since the age of 12 and made sure I had letters from them stating that they didn't want any compensation for me.

"All that was left to do was the clearance to be applied for.” 

He added: “At first, I didn't find it too hard, I was in a professional environment training every day and it was what I'd always wanted.

"Bbut as the months went on I felt like my development was being hindered from the lack of game time I was getting and I knew that the only way they were going to give me another contract was if they saw me playing regularly.

"When my clearance [fell through] that took a massive toll on me mentally, having worked so hard for so long and being away from my family for months on end.

"I was struggling with a massive mental battle trying to stay focused and keep belief that all this waiting around and not playing would be worth it in the end, but the opportunity was obviously not given to me.

“I know that the amount of time I went without playing can be common in professional football with injuries and players not being in form and when they get the call up they're expected to perform.

"But a young player of my age needs to be playing regular football.

"Training is just not the same as playing and when it came to pre-season it was expected of me to come out the cage firing but I found pre-season extremely difficult and it wasn't until the end of it that I was performing at 100%.”

Murphy said he missed an “incredible” amount of football in that year-and-a-half spell at Sheffield Wednesday. 

“When I went there in October, there was a friendly reserve game nearly every 10 days and I played in all of them up until Christmas so I was happy at that point,” he said.

“But when I came back I played in a couple of games up until March and then none until pre-season so I started pre-season without playing a game for four months.

"Being a young player who is still developing, that amount of time not playing can seriously hinder my development and I feel that it has.

"As soon as pre-season finished I played 30 minutes in a reserve game about two weeks after pre-season and then a friendly in September so that speaks for itself.”

Despite his difficult experience in English football, Murphy is determined to try his hand in a European league again.

“During the last couple of months I was there I'm going be honest I felt incredibly disheartened by the whole situation, things would go through your head like 'is it worth being away from home',” he said.

“But at the end of the day I just want to make a career out of football and even though this has happened to me I still want to go back to Europe and give it another crack.

"It's also wisened me to the political side of football and I've realized that it really is a cut-throat business especially when you're an overseas player.

"If it was down to the way I was playing I'd be the first to put my hand up and say I wasn't good enough, but I know that I was good enough and I should have been given the opportunity to play for another contract so I was treated extremely unfairly.

"But this set back won't stop me from getting to where I want to be.” 

Sheffield Wednesday told au.fourfourtwo.com they had not registered Murphy, but declined to comment further.