The former Black Cat who became a Tractor Boy is now a Magpie.
And while Daryl Murphy accepts that, as a one-time Sunderland player, he’ll have a bit of a job to do to fully win over the Geordie faithful, he says there was no hesitation on his part in signing for Rafa Benitez at Newcastle United — even though it was a wrench to leave Mick McCarthy and Ipswich Town.
“I heard of interest last month but I put it down to speculation because I didn’t hear anything concrete,” he says, “and then towards the end of last week it took momentum, there was a bid put in, and that was the first time I knew there was something there.
“When a club like Newcastle come in for you, it’s very, very hard to say no. As soon as I knew it was concrete I had to go, simple as that. It was hard [leaving Portman Road]. Every minute I had been there was brilliant. I couldn’t have asked for any more of anyone — the players, staff, manager, fans — but when Newcastle come calling, there is only one option.
“I went up to do the medical and flew over here the next morning. I’ve not even met any of the lads yet. I met the manager briefly and, after this, I will look forward to going back over and getting started — the first time I will meet [Serbian striker] Aleksandar Mitrovic will be on Monday.
“The aim is to go straight back up. I want to be challenging. I’ve not got that many years left. I want a crack at the Premier League but my first concern is to get into the team and establish myself.”
Daryl’s family have also been on the move, back to his native Waterford.
“It’s not nice not having them at home but when the kids get to that age [11 and 8] you have to think about them. They needed to be starting school in Ireland as, whenever I finish, that’s where I will be based.
“I wanted them to be settled, as they have moved enough schools during my career and it wasn’t fair to them. The plan always was to go home, we have a house there.”
At 33, his surprise move to Newcastle is in keeping with a late-blossoming career story exemplified by teh striker’s appearances at Euro 2016.
“The buzz around the place and everything around it was everything you would have hoped for.
“I’ll have some great memories for years to come of playing in some very big games. The Italy game — to know I was starting and to play and be involved in that win was brilliant. And then to keep my place a few days after and play against France, bar the result, was brilliant for me. My family was there and got to experience it as well.
“I felt good, felt sharp, felt a bit better than I thought I would because I was injured beforehand. I was a little bit worried about fitness, but we did quite a bit when we met up and that benefited me. I was always ready to go if called upon and I was hoping I got a chance — and that chance came against Italy.
“It was a big boost to play a game like that which you needed to win, knowing the manager had the confidence to put you in there. And then to play against France not long later, it gives you confidence and hope.”
Retirement, post-Euros then, was never a consideration.
“I was always going to keep going, I’ll keep coming until I’m no longer wanted really,” he says, adding, “I still have to score a goal.”
Ah, the elephant in the room — it’s 23 games and counting, and Daryl Murphy has still to open his international account.
“I brought it up before you were going to bring it up,” he smiles. “I couldn’t have left on that note. I was counting the subs on Wednesday night. One of those things. I hope I can play some part on Monday — and score a goal.”
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