Chris Shields programme article

Posted : 13th July 2021

Nine-and-a-half years of service, 349 appearances, 16 trophies, 15 goals and two Europa League group stage qualifications ensured that Chris Shields is an icon at Dundalk FC and renowned as one of the Lillywhites’ greatest ever players.

Having arrived at Oriel Park from Bray in 2012, Chris went on to take the captain’s armband and subsequently led Dundalk through the most dominant period in their history which include five league titles. However, all things come to an end and he became a marquee signing for Linfield when he signed a three-year deal with the Blues on July 1. Speaking to ‘Look at Linfield’, Chris explained the factors behind his move.

“I already knew the manager, David Healy, because we both live in Bangor and we would bump into each-other now and then and we’d stop and have a chat. My wife is from Bangor and, incidentally, her friend lives next door to David, so there’s a little connection there too. Anytime I’ve ever spoken to David the chats always went well. Similarly, when it came to talks of joining the club, the things he said resonated with me and was a factor in my decision. But ultimately Linfield is a fantastic club, so well ran and very successful and that paid a big part in my decision. The club itself is very attractive with how well everything is ran and the demand for success is a great appeal. I also have two young kids, so with living in Bangor it means I now have more time at home with them and that’s welcome to my family life. Some games down south meant I was doing 16 hour days.

“Winning trophies and being successful is the demand set on Linfield Football Club every year and even from the outside I was already aware of that. That’s a challenge and an exciting one which prizes you as a footballer and the ambition is to come here and win trophies. The timing suited all parties because I wanted a full season with Linfield rather than coming in after my contract would expire in December and scrambling together half a season. Dundalk also got a small fee, whatever it was is better than nothing for a 30 year-old coming out of contract. I am excited for a new challenge because it’s just like someone getting a new job; I’ve not had that for ten years, so although leaving Dundalk was emotional, it’s an exciting time for me as well.”

Chris pulled on the shirt for the first time two Saturdays ago in a 3-0 friendly defeat to St.Mirren at the Dub before making his Linfield debut in last week’s 3-1 defeat to Zalgiris Vilnius in Lithuania, and says he’s settled right in amongst the squad despite leaving surroundings he was so familiar with at Dundalk.

“I already knew Jamie Mulgrew, too, as he also lives in Bangor! I would have bumped into him here and there too and it’s actually been a lot easier to settle in than I expected. From day one the players and staff have been great and it’s made it so easy for me to settle in. The European trips are a great way to settle in as well. It was the first time I’d ever been a new lad in the team which was nerve-wrecking, but it’s been grand.

“There is a lot of competition for places. Cameron Palmer has really impressed me since I’ve arrived, Jamie Mulgrew’s career and medal haul speaks for itself, Stephen Fallon who I played against once has evident quality, and hopefully Kyle McClean will be back as soon as possible. It’s a very talented midfield bunch to be part of.”

Two years ago, Linfield went on a great European run and beat Qarabag 3-2 in the first leg of a Europa League play-off at Windsor Park – a night that will live long in the memory of Linfield supporters, who were joined by our new signing on the night. Let’s hope tonight will create similar memories as we aim to overturn a two-goal deficit.

“I had been to watch Linfield games including the European home tie against Qarabag in 2019 and the atmosphere that night was electric. You could see that feed through to the players that night, whereas you could see the Qarabag players were shell shocked. I hope that we can have nights like that again soon. I’ve been lucky myself to have played in the group stages of Europe twice in my time with Dundalk and progressing with this group of players at Linfield is something I want to do now.

“We can’t wait to have the fans back and I have no doubt they’re itching to get back too. Getting them in is a slice of normality for everyone and perfect for a game of such high magnitude. I am very much looking forward to making my Windsor Park debut as a Linfield player. It was good to make my competitive debut last week but a disappointing result. As the manager says, we have to believe and we will give it our best tonight.”

The 30 year-old Clondalkin man says he is looking forward to playing in the Irish League and explains that he’s already quite familiar with it, and he also explains why he’s hoping Rangers FC accept Linfield’s invitation to a friendly to celebrate their 55th title with Linfield at Windsor Park.

“I am well aware of the Irish League and in fact I would say I’ve watched more of it than any other league given my location. It always had my interest and I’d go to the odd game when I could. I’m not coming in blind. Linfield is a huge club in this league and the demand for success is there and I’m happy to meet it. Things are improving in this league and it’s the strongest it’s been for a long, long time.

“My dad is Scottish. He is from Ayrshire and a Rangers fan which I inherited from him, so it would be brilliant if the game went ahead and I could get him up from Dublin for it.”

A warm Windsor welcome to Chris and everyone associated with Linfield will hope to see him continue the rich success he enjoyed in his trophy-laden Dundalk career.
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Co Antrim Shield
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