JOSH DANIELS reckons he’s got a point to prove as he looks to write ‘a new chapter’ in his promising football career in the Irish League with Glenavon.
The 21-years-old winger cut ties with his hometown club on Saturday after five years when he joined the Mourneview Park side on a two-year deal.
His departure from the Brandywell will have surprised many, but Josh insists he harbours no regrets or resentment over his time at Derry.
Indeed, he’s grateful for the support he’s received from City boss, Kenny Shiels and everyone attached to the club during a traumatic season where he battled his way back after the tragic loss of five members of his family in the Buncrana Pier tragedy.
Daniels has struggled to break into Shiels’ starting XI this season, finding himself down the pecking order and so felt it was now time to move on and find a club where he could play frequently to ‘show people what I can do’.
There was other interest from Coleraine but the playmaker felt he needed to take himself out of his comfort zone and joining the ‘Lurgan Blues’ was the bigger challenge as he looks to fulfil his football ambitions.
“It wasn’t an easy decision but I had a lot of time to think about it and if I can go somewhere and play, then it’s a no-brainer for me,” said Josh. “People are probably saying you’re mad for leaving but realistically I was too comfortable at Derry. I could have sat on the bench and most people would be happy to do that.
“But I’m ambitious and want to play football. The only way I’m going to enjoy it is if I’m playing. Especially as an attacking player or a winger, you have to be playing 90 minutes every time and I never got that in the five years I’ve been there.
“It’s all well and good when you’re coming off the bench when you’re younger, but when you’re looking to express yourself and show people what you can do, you need to be playing 90 minutes week-in, week out.
“I’ve a point to prove. Leaving Derry is not the end of my career. I still want to prove to Derry fans and the manager that I was good enough to be in the team.
“I still think I am good enough to be in the team but things just didn’t work out. I can’t pick the team and I have to get on with it professionally.
“I have to get my head down and work hard again.”
Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton has been a long-time admirer of the Galliagh lad but it was a recommendation from the late Derry City captain, Ryan McBride, which could well have sealed the deal.
“I played against Glenavon last year for Derry in pre-season after our summer break and Gary Hamilton saw me for the first time and asked why I wasn’t getting game time.
“So there’s always been a connection between Gary and I. He saw me in the No 10 position and no one could get the ball off me. He queried it and I think he was actually chatting to Ryan McBride that day so he’s kept an eye on me. He’s only stopped playing recently himself and he’s a football man and I need someone like Gary. He lets his players play and and express themselves. I need to get into that team and show people what I can do.
“They’ve treated me brilliantly already and I’ve onlty been there a couple of days.”
Glenavon opened their Danske Bank Premiership campaign in some style, netting 12 times in their three games winning start and Josh reckons he will fit in well.
“I’ve been up watching Glenavon a couple of times and they play attacking football. Wingers are getting the ball and going one versus one. I think it’s the perfect team for me.”
Explaining his reasons for knocking back Coleraine in favour of signing with Glenavon, Josh insisted he needed to get away from the North West and challenge himself.
“I want to go to England eventually and prove to people how good I actually am. Glenavon is a great platform for me to do it and I’m really excited about it.
“I’ve been at Derry for five years and don’t know anything else. It will be a good experience for me. It’s the challenge I wanted. I’m taking myself out of my comfort zone.
“I thank Derry for the experience but it’s time for me to go and show people what I’m about. It’s time to open a new chapter in my life.
“I was back and forward until the end of last week. I had a good chat with both teams and the easy option would’ve been Coleraine.
“I’m not going for the easy option. I want to get away and not rely on anyone around Derry.
“I need this more than Coleraine. Yes, there’s a few Derry boys up in Coleraine and it’s only half an hour away but I need to get out there and challenge myself.
“Glenavon are in great form. I can’t wait to get up and click into the team. Hopefully I can be confident, play every week and be successful.”
Daniels, was a fans’ favourite at Derry City but he found himself behind Nathan Boyle, Lukas Schubert and new signing Josef Dolny in the pecking order. So why does he think it didn’t quite work out?
“The competition was healthy and I didn’t mind that. I was at Derry when players like Michael Duffy was there and I was still getting game-time.
When you see the age difference and the experience, Kenny seemed to go with the experience. No one knows except for Kenny and I’m not going to criticise him. He’s helped me a lot; Derry have helped me a lot and they believe in me.
“If I had got more gametime I could’ve done something different. Now I’m at Glenavon I’m going to show people what I’m really about.
“They’re doing so well at the minute so I’m not expecting to go straight in there I have to prove a point.
“People are telling me I’m going down a level but I’m not going down a level if I’ve been sitting on the bench.
“If I’m playing football every week then that’s what it’s about. If I’m to enjoy my football then I need to be playing every week.
“I love Derry City and will always support them. They supported me a long time. There have been ups and downs and I’m, sure there’ll be more ups and downs.
“I left on a good note, there’s been no bridges burned and all the staff and players I’m still very friendly with and I know I could rely on them. if I needed anything,.
I’m trying to put that behind me. Last year was massive for me. It was an emotional year and they pulled me through it.
“I have to thank everyone for that, I need to show people how good I can be. My main priority is to enjoy myself and play with a smile on my face.”