Delighted to be called up to the Northern Ireland team for friendly vs turkey!!! #happylad #oneofthebucketlist— jonny steele (@jonnysteele22) November 8, 2013
According to a source -- ok, fine, it's the man himself and the IFA website -- Jonny Steele is getting a call-up to the Northern Ireland squad for the upcoming friendly against Turkey.
Its been a long time coming for Steele, whose journey to New York started with an escape from Catholic-Protestant tension, and sometimes outright violence, in his hometown of Larne during the tail end of The Troubles. At 16, at least partially at the behest of his mother, Steele made the jump across the Irish Sea to join the Wolverhampton Wanderers youth set-up.
Two years later, at 18, he'd make the jump across the Atlantic in a bid to play in MLS. He'd end up banging around the USL, then the second tier of American soccer, and indoor leagues for the better part of a decade before catching on with Real Salt Lake in 2012. In Utah, he was in and out of the first team, making 11 starts and 28 appearances before being released last December.
Then, the bit of the story we all know: He signed with the Red Bulls at the start of the season and figured to be a bench player, but when injuries pushed Head Coach Mike Petke to move to a 4-4-2, Steele was one of the only wide midfielders on the roster. He'd make 32 starts in 33 appearances, scoring five goals and assisting six others.
In July, Northern Ireland Head Coach Michael O'Neil said Steele would get his chance "soon" and, apparently, that chance was set to come in an upcoming friendly against Turkey. The MLS Playoffs, reportedly, ended up making the call-up difficult to work out, but with the Red Bulls out, it looks like Steele will be able to join the squad after all.