It was confirmed at the weekend that Westmeath underage star, John Heslin will be joining AFL club Richmond Tigers. The teenager has signed a two year contract with the Australian side.
Originally it was believed that new franchise Gold Coast Suns was Heslin’s destination but the player has now announced that he is heading for a new career with Richmond.
The Mullingar man was spotted by Aussie scouts at last month’s Sigerson Cup Finals and had trials before he was signed up on a rookie contract. Speaking in the Sunday Independent, Heslin revealed that he turned down the opportunity of a move to play soccer in the UK with Derby County in his younger days, but couldn’t do the same when the AFL came calling.
He told the newspaper, “The professional aspect of [soccer] was very appealing but the set-up just wasn’t very welcoming. The manager rarely talked to us. It was almost like we were a number.
“The Australian set-up was so different. Everyone was welcoming from the start, and I know I was a bit older but it was a totally different atmosphere. For the week I was there I was wearing Jack Riewoldt’s(famous Rules player) boots because I needed moulded studs. Kenny Miller was at Derby then and he wouldn’t even have noticed younger lads let alone loan us his boots.
“When I came back I just asked myself would I rather be scoring a goal in Pride Park or a point in Croke Park into Hill 16 against the Dubs. I didn’t even have to think about the answer so I knew what needed to be done.”