Midfielder Jake Dunwoody hoping move to Finland will reignitecareer
Northern Ireland U21 international Jake Dunwoody is confident that a move to Finland can reignite his career.
The 22-year-old signed for Finnish top-tier side HIFK in January after spending six months with Derry City and has represented the club three times in the Suomen Cup, helping them to two victories and top spot in their group.
Having progressed through the academy at Manchester City before moving on to Stoke City, the midfielder wasn’t offered a new contract by former Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill last summer.
He played 13 times for Northern Ireland’s U21 side, including in a famous 2-1 victory over Spain in September 2018, and Dunwoody already feels at home due to a relationship built with current HIFK manager Joaquin Gomez at Stoke.
“Playing for Northern Ireland, we had Finland in our group and the U21 coach was Joaquin Gomez,” he said.
“I knew him from Stoke so I managed to train under him when he was there and I had a good relationship with him.
“He gave me a phone call asking if I would like to come over and work with him and I was out of contract, so I was very happy when he phoned.
“I need something to get my profile back up there and I feel this is a good step for me to do well.
“Hopefully I can become a better player with the help of Joaquin. He understands the way I play and he will help me as much as I need, so I think it will be good for me to come over and learn.”
Dunwoody’s summer move to Derry City didn’t exactly work out for the young midfielder and he now reflects on that decision as “one of the worst” of his career so far, but is determined to put the experience behind him.
“I went there for a short period of time, played a few games and that was about it really,” he added.
“My contract ended and I wanted to see what else there was. I don’t think it was as good as I thought it was going to be.
“At the time, it seemed like a good move but looking back at it now it was probably one of the worst decisions I made.
“That has gone now and I’m just looking forward to getting my career back really.”
The former Stoke U23 captain played in nine of Northern Ireland’s 10 group games in the recent U21 European Championship qualifying campaign, winning two and picking up three draws as they finished fifth behind Denmark, Romania, Ukraine and Finland.
Although born in England, he qualifies for Northern Ireland through his grandfather and after a run of consistent performances at junior level, Dunwoody hopes his latest move could be a step in the right direction towards senior selection.
“It’s completely different to club football and you have a chance to go over there with a different set of lads from all over the place and still have that team bond together,” he said.
“It gets you away from everything that is so hectic at a club and helps freshen you up.
“We had a really good group and it was a shame that I had to miss the last game of the campaign due to Covid.
“I’m looking forward to try and push towards the senior team. I’m working as hard as I can and hopefully that will pay off at some time.
“That’s the one thing that I really want to achieve.
“After doing quite well for the U21’s, I want to get that opportunity with the senior squad and stay in it.”
Nine of his U21 appearances came under Ian Baraclough before he replaced O’Neill as senior team manager and Andy Crosby took control of the U21’s.
Dunwoody enjoyed working with Baraclough and believes it’s a major positive for all young players that he’s in charge at the top.
“I love working with Ian,” he added.
“He understands me and I could speak to him about anything, not just football which is great.
“He sometimes gives me a ring on the odd occasion, which he doesn’t have to do, but he likes to see how I am and I’ve sent him a text a few times.
“I really enjoy working with him and I’m glad that he has the senior position. You already look at some of the guys who have stepped up from the U21’s into the senior team and they have taken their chance.”
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