IRELAND international Jessica Ziu says she’s in no hurry to leave Shelbourne even though she has ambitions of playing abroad at club level in an era when British clubs are keener than ever to snap up Irish talent.
he 19-year-old is one of six home-based players named in Vera Pauw’s squad for the Pinatar Cup invitational tournament in Spain. Ireland’s first test is against Poland on Wednesday. It’s a big week for Ziu, who was just 16 when she made her senior international debut but had to wait until last year, and the win over Georgia, for her first start at senior level, and also a big season as her Shels side mount a defence of their WNL title with an eye on the Champions League qualifiers.
Since the end of last season, fellow Reds Ciara Grant and Saoirse Noonan have left the club, moving to England, and while interest in Ziu could intensify on the back of Ireland games over the next week, she’s content to stay put for now.
“I don’t know what other people think but me personally, no, a few have said to me that I’m getting older and maybe it’s my turn to go to England but I’m just waiting for the right time,” she said today from the team’s Spanish training camp.
“I’m being patient, and working on a few things here myself in Ireland, like my physicality and fitness because I know it’s a different ball game over in England. It’s totally different so just for now I’m being patient. I’m in no hurry to move. When the time is right, it’s right.”
She has welcomed increased exposure for the WNL, especially with broadcasts on TG4 and the LOITV streaming service but admits that work has to be done, and income streams generated, to keep Irish players in Ireland.
“Yeah I think it’s unbelievable. I think some clubs are bringing in payments too which is absolutely unbelievable,” she says of the TG4 deal.
“I think we have to work on keeping the girls in Ireland. There are a few more looking to go abroad which is unfortunate because we’re losing the talent in the league. There’s a lot still coming up though. I think the games being shown on telly is unreal. It’s bringing more of an audience in. Loads of little kids are coming to watch us and asking for our signatures and pictures. I think it’s unbelievable to see all this being brought in. it’s good to see.”
Ahead of the Poland clash, Ziu is eager to impress. “I think it’s a good tournament to get some minutes under my belt and hopefully if I can do that I can show the management what I can do,” she says.
“It’s a new position for me, right wing-back. I played there a bit with Dave Bell with the under-17s Ireland team but I’m still getting used to it because I’m a winger/midfielder but it’s good for development. We have a young squad and hopefully I can get some minutes under my belt.”