When Dundalk appointed Stephen Kenny as manager ahead of the 2013 season, they had no idea how big their club would become in such a short period of time. They were league champions in 2014 and by 2016 had reached the Europa League group stages.
They did this with an almost exclusively Irish squad. The non-Irish who were involved had long established themselves here before signings, such as Peter Cherrie and Gabriela Sava.
After that first Europa League run they stayed loyal to the tried and tested Irish (and returning Irish) market, but all that changed in 2018 when Peak 6 took control and they started looking further afield.
Here's a look back at each of the “foreign” signings after Peak 6, including where each player ended up in their career.
Krisztián Adorján (Hungary) - on loan from Novara (Italy)
Adorján joined on loan from Serie B side Novara and was touted as a “former Liverpool striker” as he had played youth football for the Merseysiders.
The highest level he had played at previously was a spell on loan with Groningen in the Dutch top tier in 2013/14 which coincided with him earning Hungarian under 21 caps. Adorján’s loan spell ended in the summer of 2018 after 3 goals in 18 appearances.
He’s now playing with Budafoki MTE in the Hungarian second tier.
Karolis Chvedukas (Lithuania) - Sūduva Marijampolė (Lithuania)
Chvedukas was an experienced full international when he signed for Dundalk, playing against England in the October before signing for Stephen Kenny’s side (he didn’t earn any caps while with Dundalk, but did pick up a cap in 2019).
He barely played for Dundalk in 2018 and went on to play for Waterford, in local league football (i.e. below the national league) in Malta, and was last with KPV in the Finnish second tier. He’s now listed as retired aged 31.
Marco Tagbajumi (Nigeria) - Stromgodset (Norway)
Tagbajumi had helped claim the Norwegian Cup while on loan with Lillestrom in 2017 but couldn’t make the starting XI in Dundalk. His professional career having been mostly spent in Cyprus and Norway.
He was released in the summer after two league goals in 16 substitute appearances, signing for Bodo/Glimt back in Norway. He last played professionally in 2019 with Notodden as they were relegated from Norway’s second tier aged 31.
The departure of Stephen Kenny saw Vinnie Perth go back to basics somewhat after his appointment, with Jordan Flores and Joe McKee the only non-Irish signings. Signing English and Scottish players from those leagues is not what we’re here for.
2020 was a different story...
Nathan Oduwa (Nigeria) - Hapoel Hadera (Israel)
English-born Odowa was only 23-years old when he signed for Dundalk but had already played in England, Slovenia (winning the league with Olimpia in 2018), Denmark and Israel. He’d represented England to under 20 level and Nigeria at under 23s.
He left Dundalk after starting four league games and his only goal coming in the 11-0 win over Athlone Town in the FAI Cup. He was an unused sub in the final as they beat Shamrock Rovers in extra time. After a year out of football, he’s currently with Shamakhi in the Azerbaijani top tier.
Stefan Čolović (Serbia) - Proleter Novi Sad (Serbia)
Midfielder Čolović may have been the signing that excited Dundalk fans, and watchers of the league everywhere, when he joined ahead of the 2020 season. Only 25, he had already played a lot of football in the top tier in Bosnia and his homeland of Serbia, scoring nine goals in 53 Super League games for Proleter Novi Sad.
Unlike the majority of signings who find their way into this league, he wasn’t released and looking for a club, he was actively sought out by Dundalk.
The pandemic mightn’t have helped but he wasn’t outstanding here, starting only 8 of Dundalk’s 18 league games that year. He was a regular in Europe for them though as they once again reached the Europa group stages.
He’s back in Serbia now playing top-flight football with Cukaricki ad they’re well placed to qualify for European football for next season.
Josh Gatt (USA) - Rheindorf Altach (Austria)
Gatt joined in the summer of 2020 as the league resumed after the Covid lockdown, with Dundalk trumpeting the fact he was a former USA full international. He had played football in Norway, Austria and even in the MLS with Colorado Rapids but struggled to get a look in at Dundalk.
He played only three times before leaving at the end of the season. Aged 30, he’s without a club after being released by Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the USL Championship after the 2021 season.
Alessio Abibi (Albania) - Kastrioti (Albania)
The Italian-born Albanian international was signed to replace Gary Rogers as Filippo Giovagnoli sought to put his imprint on the squad for the 2021 season. The keeper had played sparingly in the Italian lower leagues and in Albania but Giovagnoli persisted with him for too long.
He was clearly out of his depth and played no-small part in their struggles last year, with veteran Peter Cherrie coming back in to steady the ship. Released at the end of the season, the 25-year old hasn’t been picked up yet.
Sonni Nattestad (Faroe Islands) - B36 (Faroe Islands)
The full international had an action-packed debut for Dundalk in the Presidents Cup scoring against Shamrock Rovers before being sent off. He almost started as many games in Europe (six) as he did in the League (eight) in a largely ineffectual season.
He signed for Norwegain top tier side FK Serv ahead of the 2022 season before they terminated his contract following pressure from fans who were aware of Nattestad’s refusal to testify in a sexual assault case against his former team-mate. He re-signed with B36 in the Faroes.
Raivis Jurkovskis (Latvia) - FK Liepāja (Latvia)
Latvia’s first choice right back continued to win international caps while with Dundalk where he was the regular starter too. Jurkovskis’s robust style was appreciated more by Dundalk fans than opposition players, but he didn’t stand out at this level.
He’s back with Riga FC in his homeland after his 2021 in Dundalk. Jurkovskis may be the only person on this last that provided Dundalk with any sort of return on their money.
Ole Erik Midtskogen (Norway) - KI (Faroe Islands)
The giant Norwegian striker scored for KI against Dundalk in the 2020 Europa League play-off in the Aviva Stadium and that was, seemingly, enough to convince them he’d be an asset for the 2021 season.
He was not. He scored once and only started five league games for Dundalk before leaving in August. He’s playing with Kjelsås in the second tier in Norway now.
Jeongwoo Han (Korea) - Suwon (Korea)
The diminutive forward wasn’t Dundalk’s first choice Korean, but after running into visa issues, they settled on Han as they spoke of the potential economic impact of his signing.
As then-sporting director Jim Magilton put it:
His signing opens up a whole new avenue for the club to showcase and enhance our brand, as well as the League of Ireland’s, in Asia which is something we are all very excited by at Oriel Park.
Han struggled in the league here, starting six league games and scoring once. He’s now back in the Korean second tier with Gimpo FC. Yes, that is their real name and yes, that link is safe to click. Check Wiki if you'd prefer.
We've no stats on visitors to Dundalk from Korea.
Jesus Perez (USA) - Tacoma Defiance (USA)
Perez was one of the least heralded signings of the 2021 pre-season and he played only 47 minutes in two appearances before being loaned out to Forward Madison in the US second tier. After his release from Dundalk he dropped to the regional US leagues with Chicago FC United.
Here’s where we’ll mention a couple of other signings from the Americas, Taner Dogan had played college football and signed his first professional deal with Dundalk in 2020. He never played for the club but stayed two years going on loan to Athlone Town and to Forward Madison.
Canadian defender Terique Mohammed signed ahead of the 2021 season from Toronto II but again didn’t play and went out on loan to Athlone (where he also didn’t play) and to York United of the Canadian League. He’s now with Edmonton FC.
The North American experiments might have been the least successful of Dundalk’s efforts, even if the outlay wasn't likely to be much.
Wilfred Zahibo (Central African Republic) - Houston Dynamo (USA)
French-born, but an international player with Central African Republic, Zahibo was reported to be the league’s highest paid player in 2021.
The highlights of his CV included a couple of games for Valencia in La Liga and a spot in the MLS All Star squad while with New England Revolution. He had only played seven times in 2020 though with a short spell in Houston being the last of his MLS experience.
Whatever Dundalk were paying Zahibo, they didn’t get any value for it as the defensive midfielder started eight games in all competitions following his arrival in April. Still only 28, he is without a club since Dundalk released him.
Sami Ben Amar (Morocco) - Nimes (France)
French-born, but a Moroccan underage international, Ben Amar signed in August from the French club having made a couple of appearances in Ligue 1. He had played more with their reserve team in the lower leagues though.
He scored twice for the Lilywhites in his 17 appearances in all competitions. The 24-year old is without a contract since his Dundalk release. He was to be the last signing made under the Peak 6 ownership.
By the end of 2021, Dundalk had new owners and new management in place and their signings for 2022 were all from Ireland or Britain. The foreign legion were gone, but not forgotten. Even if the vast majority of them, including several full internationals, weren't good enough for our league.
Still, fans of clubs here love nothing more than hearing about a signing from outside these islands. It doesn't matter that for every Joseph N'do there's ten Ole Erik Midtskogens.