Adam Thompson dreams of another Northern Ireland call up

Northern Ireland international Adam Thompson is hoping he can achieve a hat-trick of League Two promotions after signing for Leyton Orient during the January transfer window.

By Sports Desk
Saturday, 20th February 2021, 6:00 am
Adam Thompson playing against Colchester United. Credit Leyton Orient Football Club
Adam Thompson playing against Colchester United. Credit Leyton Orient Football Club

The 28-year-old, who made two senior international appearances under Nigel Worthington, has already helped Southend United and Bury make their way into the third-tier of English football.

He joined Orient on a permanent deal from Championship outfit Rotherham United, who he also gained promotion with last season, but didn’t make a single league appearance in the current campaign.

Game time was Thompson’s main motivating factor for the move and the central defender has already helped his new club keep consecutive clean sheets in games against Crawley Town and Colchester United.

They host Port Vale this afternoon sitting five points adrift of the play-off positions but Thompson is hopeful that a good blend of experience and youth can help fire them up the table.

“They are a really welcoming bunch of lads,” he said.

“The first couple of games have went well as a defender and we have kept a couple of clean sheets and I have felt at home straight away.

“You want to come in and get that respect straight away and make them feel that you will improve them as a team.

“It was a big first couple of games and the next few are really big as well in terms of gaining that respect and letting them know that I’m here to try and push everyone on and help them.

“It’s just trying to help the lads and bring that experience of what the changing rooms were like in those seasons we went up.

“It’s things like how we played against a team with a certain style or when you’re playing Tuesday and Saturday every week when you’re not in good form how to get out of that.

“The next three weeks will let us know if we have a good shot at getting into the play-offs or if we are going to finish mid-table and have to go again next season.

“Hopefully we can push on over the next few weeks.”

Thompson, who was born in England but qualified for Northern Ireland through his maternal grandmother, made his senior debut against Scotland at the age of 18 when he came off the bench in a 3-0 Nations Cup defeat.

He started a few months later against the Republic of Ireland but it ended in disaster as he was sent-off while conceding a penalty for a trip on Robbie Keane in the second-half of a game Northern Ireland would lose 5-0.

That encounter remains the last cap that Thompson earned but despite the way it ended, he still reflects fondly on his international experience.

“You feel that real pride and responsibility and it’s such an honour to play for a country,” he added.

“It makes it more special when it’s so important to my family and it was such a proud moment.

“When we first got that call we were all in tears and then it was like a family really growing up from the U16’s through to the first team which is what made me fall in love with it.

“The older you get the more you realise what an amazing experience it was to be playing in the Aviva Stadium with and against some amazing players.

“We weren’t doing great in that game so I was thinking if there is a time to come on with no pressure to try and make an impression then this was it.

“It was a mixture of real nerves before but I was so eager to get on and then the game after it was a different story with the red card, which wasn’t a great feeling combined with the result.

“At the time it’s like the end of the world. When you look back you’re just lucky to have played in those games.

“I always hope in my heart that I will get another chance but with the league I’m playing in at the moment the ship may have sailed, but I will always hold those memories that were some of the fondest of my career.”

Thompson received another call-up from Michael O’Neill for a friendly against New Zealand and World Cup qualifying games versus Azerbaijan and San Marino in 2017, but didn’t get the opportunity to feature.

“By that time I was older and realising what an honour it was to be involved,” he said.

“I was more conscious about what I was doing and was trying my best to impress to get into the team.

“As it has been over the years for Northern Ireland, our strongest department has been defence, especially our central defence, so it was always going to be a challenge getting in.

“I enjoyed every minute of it and you learn so much from those lads in training that you can bring back to club level.”

His allegiance remains very much with the Green and White Army and just like everyone else is hoping they can find their way back into another major tournament.

“Every time they are on TV I will be watching them over England,” he said.

“I know a lot of the lads and know what they are like so it’s good to keep updated on how we are getting on.

“Everybody is dreaming of another Euros like we had in 2016 and everyone is looking for that.

“It’ll be great to get the fans back in too because I think it makes our place a daunting one to go to.

“Once the fans are out it’s a little bit different but I will always be watching.”