Luck O' The Irish
Stymied in his bid for local U-20 forward Hanis Mohd Fadhli, Hovaness Noubaryan
wasted no time in bringing in his big name for the season, and it would be 25 year-old Irishman Bernie Egan
. Having represented his country at all levels, the dark-skinned Egan commanded a fee of S$14.8 million to Italian sixth division side A.S. Avellana Valle dei Lupi, making him Grilled's second most-expensive signing ever, behind only current goalkeeper Massoud Dob
Noubaryan saw Egan as more able to make an immediate contribution, as compared to Hanis. "I'm not saying anything about overall potential, but five additional years of experience counts for a lot. Bernie has what it takes to keep up with our quickest, and I don't think he needs much more introduction - his record speaks for itself."
That record, as it happens, had been compiled mostly at current Irish Premier winners Smithwick's FC, with whom he spent seven very productive seasons. A one-and-a-half season stay with Italian club Fc Esmeralda then followed, before a brief visit at Avellana. Such was his reputation as a youngster that he started for his senior national side the week he turned pro, in a 5-3 victory over Argentina. While he has yet to receive a second cap, and has since picked up just the two U-20 caps against Northern Ireland and Bénin, pundits have generally not quite written his international future off just yet.
"And why should they?" Noubaryan continued. "Egan lacks only exposure, if anything, and Grilled can provide him that platform."