Stewart back home from North America and back in the trophy hunt with Dundalk

Thomas Stewart showing off his club colours after signing a deal with League of Ireland champions Dundalk.
Thomas Stewart showing off his club colours after signing a deal with League of Ireland champions Dundalk.

Thomas Stewart is back on home turf after almost three years of travel around North America on planes, trains and automobiles.

The Portadown-born striker’s sole drive now is to clock up medals rather than miles.

A deal with three-in-a-row Premier Division champions Dundalk marks a return to the League of Ireland for Stewart and third spell of his career with Stephen Kenny as manager, following past productive periods at Derry City and Shamrock Rovers.

“Those years with Sacramento Republic and Ottawa Fury have left me a more mature person and player,” said Stewart, who won back-to-back Irish League titles with Linfield. “I had offers to stay abroad but am excited to be back playing under Stephen and I know a few of the players.

“It comes down to staying competitive and pushing for trophies, that is always the appeal.

“I have won honours here and in America and even when so far away you could not miss the story of Dundalk’s progress in the Europa League and Champions’ League.

“I kept on top of the news from the Irish League and League of Ireland anyway and now just cannot wait to kick it all off.”

Stewart will commute from his Portadown home to Dundalk and admits the reduced travel time is something to savour.

“Switching between so many different playing conditions, in terms of altitude and heat, takes a toll on the body, along with the travel and time spent on flights and in airports,” he said. “But the bottom line is I want to do my best to help Dundalk win trophies.

“Over the first few years abroad it is really exciting but it is also good to be back home competing for European football.

“Stephen is very calm but extremely professional and my focus is on getting up to speed after not having played for a while, then doing what I can for Dundalk.

“The travel and everything did prove a challenge but I could not have picked a better club to come back to than Dundalk given the magnitude of the past few seasons’ achievements.”