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Mikey Johnston Doesn't Care What People Think About His Ireland Switch

Mikey Johnston Doesn't Care What People Think About His Ireland Switch
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton
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Many Ireland fans did not know what to expect when Mikey Johnston made his debut for the team on Wednesday night. While quite a few people would have heard of him when he first broke through at Celtic, they may not necessarily have been familiar with his game unless they watched the Scottish side on a regular basis.

They certainly would have been impressed with what they saw during his cameo against Latvia.

Johnston was incredibly direct in his play, taking on opposition defenders and using his obvious dribbling talents to put them on the back foot. It was his run and shot off the post that resulted in Chiedozie Ogbene's winner, while he almost scored an incredible goal of his own a few minutes later.

It will rightly have Irish fans excited about what could be to come from the winger, whose international eligibility was only finalised earlier this month after a switch from Scotland.


The 23-year old had a difficult spell in his career over the last couple of years, with injuries seeing him go from an important contributor at Celtic to a rarely used backup.


He joined Portuguese club Vitoria Guimaraes on loan this season, although he has not always been first choice at the club. In fact, he was worried that his international hopes had been scuppered after Stephen Kenny travelled to the country to watch him play only for Johnston to be left on the bench for the entire game.

I had arranged to meet Stephen for breakfast the morning after the game but was disappointed that he came over and I didn't even get a bloody minute in the match. It was a wee bit in my head that he wouldn't pick me.

Stephen had watched enough games, with his staff analysing my games, to select me. He just wanted to meet up with me. He's a great man and manager – everyone knows that – so I am delighted that he has shown faith in me.

22 March 2023; Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny and Mikey Johnston before the international friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Latvia at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Johnston featured for Scotland all the way up to U21 level and at one stage was seen as a near certainty to progress to their senior ranks. His Irish roots were well known, with the FAI have broached the subject of an international switch in the past. The move was finally completed this month.

It remains to be seen if he will return to Celtic on a full-time basis next season, but should he become part of their squad once again, there will be some concerns that he will be targeted by opposition supporters due to his decision to play for Ireland.

This was a common theme during Aiden McGeady's career, with the Scottish-born winger regularly abused by opposition supporters after he opted to play for Ireland.


Johnston is hopeful that the game has moved on from that era, although he would pay no heed to such abuse in any case.

I think times have changed. I made this decision, people respect that or they don't. I am my own man and they'll never know the reasons why I did it.

It's always been talked about, it's in my family, in my blood. My mum and dad, we had a conversation, they said, 'Go for it if it's what you want'.

I have some family in Derry, some in Donegal, some in Dublin as well. I have them all over the place, but Derry is the link. I have had texts from all my aunties and stuff from all over Ireland I didn't know I even had.

He will certainly be hoping that Wednesday night was just the start of a long and prosperous career in green.

Considering his impact against Latvia, Ireland fans will be excited at what could be to come from him in the years ahead.


SEE ALSO: Ever Growing Bond Between Dara O'Shea & Jayson Molumby Can Be Key For Ireland

dara o'shea jayson molumby ireland feature


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