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From Scotland To Chester-le-Street Via Dubai And Accrington

by Jeff King

He took us out of the Old Year with a winning goal and a Captain’s performance to keep us at the top of the table and he celebrated by scoring our first of the New Year in a thrilling 3 – 2 win at Darlington Town to keep us in pole position.

Since coming into the side Ryan Muldoon has cemented a place in central midfield with his no-nonsense none stop approach to the game. Showcasing a great energy, he gets around the pitch superbly showing a keen eye for a tackle, pass and a healthy goal scoring opportunity.

His strike last weekend was his sixth goal of a campaign that has got better for the Scot since he made his debut against FC Hartlepool back in September 2021. It certainly helps Chester and his teammates to have a player that contributes so much to the side’s efforts.

Ryan has an interesting back story as well and has certainly taken a roundabout route to get to Chester-le-Street. He was and still is so determined to make it in football that he gave up the sunshine lifestyle and golden sands of Dubai to return to the muddy pitches and winter weather of the UK.

Ryan lived a fabulous existence in the millionaires’ paradise after moving there as a young child with his family. The 17-year-old shone as a youth player but was told that, if he really wanted to make it as a professional, he needed to return to the UK.

After a trial with Premier League side Burnley, Ryan was recommended to the English League One outfit Accrington Stanley, who had no hesitation in snapping up the youngster that was at the time playing as a right-back.

Ryan was given a two-year youth deal unfortunately at the end of that two-year stretch despite playing several times in the Under-23s as a teenager and coming close to a first-team call-up he was released by Stanley.

Ryan admits that he missed his family, friends and home-life in Dubai during his period at Accrington but thought his hard-work and progress would have landed him a contract. In the end though it was disappointing finish.

Accrington might not be Dubai and the weather might have been terrible but he admits right until the end the club were good to him and he’d still have chosen a muddy pitch in Accrington over the beach in Dubai any day if it had helped him become a professional footballer.

Some would say Ryan enjoyed a privileged upbringing in Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah with dad Jim, who is originally from Edinburgh, mum Linda, from Bearsden, near Glasgow, and younger sister Hannah.

The Muldoon’s are friends of ex-Celtic defender Derek Whyte, while former England international Trevor Sinclair – who coached Ryan as a youth – lived nearby.

Argentina hero Diego Maradona, then boss of Dubai outfit Al Wasl, also had a house in the area and Dad Jim tells a great story from that time.

“I’ll never forget Ryan coming home from under-10s training and saying, ‘Dad, that old guy you like came along to coach us.’ That old guy was Maradona.”

Muldoon Senior who moved back to the UK to support his son added,

“Dubai offered a brilliant upbringing. The training facilities are superb. But the Accrington opportunity was incredible.They a great family club and it was a shame it didn’t work out especially as it was the hardest thing leaving my wife and daughter in Dubai.”

The family also had to deal with Hannah, 15 at the time, taking seriously ill on a school trip. This was a serious test of young Ryan’s mental strength and maturity as he dealt with his sister’s serious illness.

Inside his first 6 months of his scholarship Hannah was so ill she was in a coma for 5 weeks and flattened 4 times. Now 2 years later she is still learning to walk again.

Ryan at the time of Hannah’s illness had to focus and stay in Accrington himself as Jim was at his daughter’s bedside for 6 months.

Jim feels that Ryan showed great strength and acknowledged that Accrington and its coaches gave great support to help even if his playing ambitions were temporarily thwarted last summer with his release.

Ryan added: “Seeing my sister in hospital made me realise how important my family are. Every time I step on the pitch now, I just want to make them proud.”

Earlier in his career Ryan played for English Schools North and the National team, training at St Georges when he was U16 and still at school being in the squad for a game against Australia’s under-16’s. However, he is quick to point out that despite his wanderings he is and always will be a proud Scotsman.

After being released by Accrington and only doing pre-season with Salford City he had a decision to make about whether he should return to Dubai. But he got offered a trial game with Chester-le-Street United, played, impressed and was asked to sign which he was delighted to do.

So far he’s made a favourable impression and has had scouts from his ‘native’ Scotland looking at him as he continues to flourish in a new role helping to anchor United’s impressive midfield. He is clearly enjoying his time at Chester so far.

“I love it at the moment. The chance to play a more physical game in the Wearside League is a great development opportunity and I hope a shop window to allow scouts to see how well I have improved and handle the men’s game.”

“I feel I can play at a higher level but I don’t want to sound disrespectful as I feel it’s the option that CLS United have given me to keep proving myself allows me to keep working and I feel that it gives me a chance to get a permanent contract in EPL or SPL and if not potential go back to college in US to carry on playing football.”

“Until then I want to win everything possible with Chester and let the EPL see what a quality squad we are.”

“The level of coaching and the facilities are fantastic. Having good focus from coaches this season helps keep our feet on the ground. I have proved I can play multi roles across the and stepping into central midfield I have started scoring goals and now have six in ten league games.”

“I feel every game I am getting stronger and my target is double figures for goals this season, giving 100% for United in every game and see where that takes me as the season and my career progresses.”

Ryan is certainly a very focused young man with a determined, committed attitude that will take him far in life whatever the future holds. At the moment it’s about football and seeing whether he can take it to the next level. At the still tender age of nineteen he still has ever chance of success.

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