CORRIE NDABA is determined to become the latest Cherry Orchard kid to bloom in Scotland.
The Dublin outfit are renowned for their academy system and have brought through Ireland stars Keith Fahey, Andy Reid and Anthony Stokes in the past, as well as SPFL regulars past-and-present Sean Dillon, Jonny Hayes and Jon Daly.
Ayr United loan ace Ndaba, 21, is fiercely proud of his stint at ‘the best club in Ireland’, with his performances for their all-conquering youth side earning him a move to Ipswich Town in 2016.
And he is ready to put that elite football education into practice.
Ndaba smiled: “We had a fantastic team at Cherry Orchard and it’s a great place to learn the game.
“Our age group actually won the All-Ireland Cup the year I left and SIX players from that team got a move to clubs like Manchester City, Stoke and Bournemouth so it goes to show the standard of player they are still producing.
“Even when I came across here, a couple of the boys were like ‘oh Cherry Orchard, I’ve heard about them, the top team in Ireland?’ And I tell them ‘you’re right about that!’
“You are aware of the pedigree they have and the talent they have produced – and it does motivate you.”
And Ndaba, who who already boasts four senior outings for Ipswich, has no doubt that shining in the SPFL will afford him a pathway into the starting line-up at Portman Road – especially with Scot Paul Lambert at the helm
He continued: “Paul Lambert told me this would be a good opportunity to prove myself and that, if I do well here, then there is a real chance I can go back to Ipswich and get in that team.
“There no chance that the gaffer [Lambert] will underestimate the football up here – he knows first-hand that it is a good standard in Scotland – and I’m determined to go back as a better player.”
The rise of Aaron Drinin, who also had a stint with the Honest Men last term and is now leading the line for the Tractor Boys, is further evidence to that point.
Ndaba continued: “I actually live with Aaron down in Ipswich! His progress was another big reason I came up here – he proved that the pathway is there and he loved it at Ayr.”
As well as lofty personal goals, Ndaba reckons the sky is the limit for Ayr this season and knows tonight’s televised clash against runaway Championship leaders Hearts is the ideal chance to illustrate their own promotion credentials.
He added: “We are going into the Hearts game with a lot of confidence after a 4-1 win against Alloa and firmly believe we can get three points.
“We are an ambitious club that wants to reach the Premiership and everything is being put in place for that to happen. A game against Hearts is the perfect chance to make that statement of intent.”