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Jeff Hendrick and Stephen Ward: The academy route vs the League of Ireland pathway


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What's the best route towards the top? Stay in the League of Ireland and then move to England or leave for an English club academy at the age of 15 and 16 and then work your way up?

Ireland and Burnley duo Stephen Ward and Jeff Hendrick each took a contrasting route to kickstart their careers.

For Ward, he started out at Bohemians before moving to the UK and establishing himself. Whereas Hendrick joined Derby County's youth ranks in his mid-teens and then developed there before working his way into the first team picture.

Keith Andrews was over at Burnley for The Keith Andrews Show Burnley Special and spoke to his two former Ireland team-mates in depth.

Their contrasting routes came up and both explained how they benefited with their choices.

"For me, I went away on trial but for me, staying at home and learning my education at Bohs was massive for me because I don't know how I would have reacted coming to an academy, trying to go on loan, being away from home," said Ward.

"When I joined Wolves, I'd played men's football. I felt mature enough to go over there and deal with everything the Championship and the exposure it gave to you so for me, [the League of Ireland] was the right path but it's different for everyone."

Hendrick had a positive experience, starting out by going across the Irish Sea to Derby County.

"When it came to the stage I'd sat down and signed with Derby, I was just looking forward to getting away that much that I didn't even get homesick," he said.

"My parents would give out to me at times for not calling or texting enough. I was just looking forward to getting away, getting in with the lads, getting to know them." 

The full Burnley Special is available to watch back on YouTube:


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