Nick Powell hylles av manager Michael O'Neill, og nord-iren innrømmer at han har beundret Powell lenge før han begynte å jobbe med ham hos Stoke City. To scoringer mot Luton Town sist lørdag.
Og da er Powell oppe i tosifret antall scoringer denne sesongen, og har vært en av Stokes beste spillere. Noe som også har fått Michael O'Neill til å dra frem superlativene.
Powell, som er født i Crewe like utenfor Stoke-on-Trent, begynte sin karriere hos Crewe Alexandra allerede som ung spiller og gikk til Manchester United som tenåring. Selv om det ikke ble noen karriere hos de røde djevlene, har 26-åringen hatt en god karriere og gjort sine saker meget godt for Stoke City. Tre kamper og ett mål ble det for Manchester United før han har spilt litt omkring i de lavere divisjonene før han gikk gratis til Stoke etter at kontrakten med Wigan Athletic gikk ut etter sesongen 2018/2019.
Til stokecityfc.com hadde Michael O'Neill dette å si om Powell og gleden av å jobbe sammen med playmakeren:
“I think Nick Powell has always been a player. I got familiar with Nick when he was playing at Wigan because I was watching Will Grigg a lot for my national job and I would watch Nick. At the time Wigan were in League One and I used to think, 'God how is this lad playing in League One?'
“Things changed at Manchester United and then he had two periods out on loan which weren’t particularly successful at Leicester and Hull then he had to rebuild himself at Wigan and he has come here.
“I don’t think anyone who has worked with Nick will ever dispute the quality he has had. But I think now he has a focus which he maybe didn’t have when he was younger. He’s a terrific athlete as well. I think people underestimate how good he is athletically and he can play in a number of positions.
“The pleasing thing for me is that he is understanding what his role is in the team and squad a lot better. Maybe as you get older and hopefully wiser you might be a little but less selfish in how you play.
“And certainly when we’ve asked him to play in different positions we couldn’t have asked anymore of him. He has been terrific not only in the goals he has scored but in the chances and opportunities he creates, his number have been extremely high.
“I put him in the team on January 1st last year and his form since then has been terrific.”
“At 26 you definitely believe his best years are still ahead of him. He has shown better resilience and a better ability to deal with the disappointment of Manchester United and he is at an age where he has plenty of football left in him. We’re delighted to have him here.
“We have a good relationship. He’s a boy you have to try to get the best out of but what he is doing now is getting the best out of himself. He’s got great talent and it’s nice to see him going on to develop that.”