Set-backs invaluable to Dominic Ball in getting professional football dream

PUBLISHED: 15:09 05 May 2020

Northern Ireland U21 international brothers Matt and Dominic Ball

Northern Ireland U21 international brothers Matt and Dominic Ball


Dominic Ball says a series of “kicks up the bum” were all the motivation he needed to get from Welwyn Pegasus and into professional football.

Northern Ireland U21 international brothers Matt and Dominic BallNorthern Ireland U21 international brothers Matt and Dominic Ball

The 24-year-old from Welwyn Garden City followed older brother Matt into the game where he has finally found himself at Queens Park Rangers.

But the route he has taken, complete with numerous obstacles and many setbacks, is the perfect lesson for any young footballer just setting out to find his dream.

Speaking on the All Things Football podcast with his brother he said: “I was given a trial at Watford and although they didn’t offer me anything, they did say to come back in pre-season.

“I joined the first football school in the UK. Aidy Boothroyd was the manager and for the first two years it was brilliant.

Dominic Ball marshalls his defenceDominic Ball marshalls his defence

“We had Malchy Mackay, Mark Warburton, Sean Dyche and Nick Cox, who were top coaches, and the school had all the investment.

“After two years new owners came in and took a lot of investment out and with that all the coaches left.

“The final two years became just about getting through the training.

“The best thing for me though was being released. It was tough to take but driving away from that meeting there was a feeling I’d never had before, an anger and a motivation to prove them wrong.

Dominic Ball slides in to cut out a passDominic Ball slides in to cut out a pass

“I had got comfortable and this was a kick up the bum.”

Trials followed at five clubs with offers from Norwich, Leicester and QPR but he ended up going to Tottenham after being given another challenge.

He said: “I went in there feeling it was a freebie and I had a good two weeks but Alex Inglethorpe called me in and said I was doing OK but no better than what they already had.

“He asked me to show him more and the next two weeks were probably the best I’ve ever had in my football career.

Dominic Ball rises above William KeaneDominic Ball rises above William Keane

“There was no pressure and no fear, all I had to do was show them I was better than what they had.”

That brought him a two-year scholarship but his next drama came when an expected pro deal ended up becoming only a third-year extension.

He said: “I’d worked harder than any other player in that team and I was performing better

“When I was released at Watford I hadn’t worked as hard as I did at Spurs but I realised working as hard as you can at everything you do should be a given.

Dominic Ball sticks close to Adnan JanuzajDominic Ball sticks close to Adnan Januzaj

“The difference will be how good you are.

“It made me realise that I hadn’t done as well as I thought I had and I went into the summer even more motivated than I was when I got released by Watford.

“I decided there would be no more excuses, I’m not going to put any blame on anybody else and I’m going to take back the responsibility for my future.

“I went back after the summer fitter than anybody else and was working on every single area of my game for those first two months and I got offered my pro after playing Chelsea Reserves.

Dominic Ball shakes hands with Adnan JanuzajDominic Ball shakes hands with Adnan Januzaj

“I played with Harry Kane, Andros Townsend, Tom Carroll, Ryan Fredericks, Kevin Stewart and a few big players.

“They had Nathan Ake and Reuben Loftus-Cheek and it was a surprise I was playing.

“But we won 4-2 and I had a very good game.

“The next day Les Ferdinand called me into the canteen with Tim Sherwood and Chris Ramsay and they said I’d proved myself and given me my pro.”

Rangers' Dominic Ball lift the cup after winning the Petrofac Training Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park, Glasgow. Picture: JEFF HOLMES/PARangers' Dominic Ball lift the cup after winning the Petrofac Training Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park, Glasgow. Picture: JEFF HOLMES/PA

He sat on the bench three times at White Hart Lane but never made an appearance, playing most of his football in loan spells before his release in 2016.

That said one of his loan deals was perhaps as big as they could have come.

He said: “I just couldn’t get used to the speed of it [in the first-team at Tottenham]. They were all Champions League players and internationals.

“I went on loan to Cambridge in League Two but it was the end of August in the next season and nothing had come about.

“I wanted to go League One and then Championship but having played with Mark Warburton before and Rangers being a big club, it was a good option.

“My thoughts about the league and the place wasn’t great but when I got there it was completely different.

“They are a huge club and although we were in the second division there was 40,000 every week.

“The first time walking out to a game at Ibrox I had goosebumps. I was looking around trying to take it all in at 19-year-old, that experience was amazing.”

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