Banbridge Rangers striker Lee Newell is one of the hottest young local talents around writes Josh Bunting.
Newell, from Annalong, spoke to Josh about his involvement in ‘the beautiful game’ and chatted about when his journey into football began.
Lee Newell said: “I started playing football in the playground at school then went to Valley Rangers at around 7 or 8 I think. The playground is where my earliest memories come from.
“Last time out for me was before the Mid-Ulster Football League was suspended due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Banbridge Rangers had beaten Fivemiletown United 3-0 thanks to strikes from Stuart Mallon, Josh Cahoon and Neil Clydesdale.
“I have played for Irish League clubs such as Glentoran, Glenavon and Warrenpoint Town hit the ground running in my debut season at Cheney Park.
“My career highlight so far,” he pondered,”Outside the many ups and downs I’ve had, was my favourite moment in becoming top goal scorer for Glenavon U-16’s in the National League. We nearly won it that year.
“Also winning the Mid-Ulster Cup down there was special too. My crowning moment was beating Linfield Swifts 1-0 one night with Glentoran, with former Rangers hero Nacho Novo scoring a 30-yard screamer to win it”.
Despite not winning any senior trophies so far Newell has been involved in past finals but his teams just couldn’t get over the line but he says this makes him more determined than ever to finally lead his club to glory.
He said: “I have lots of individual trophies at youth level but no senior ones yet unfortunately I’ve lost out in a few finals. Bob Radcliffe was one that hurt the most as we were so poor on the day. Losing it and the Marshall makes me want to win them even more now”.
Newell also has captained Glentoran at reserve level and has represented County Down at the Supercup NI and has proven he is one of the finest young talents in the local game.
“I learned a lot during my time with Glentoran, Glenavon and Lisburn Distillery,” the sharp shooter replied. “Persistence is key. When you get to reserve level you have to work hard and take the ups and downs. You might have a great game one week then be dropped because a first teamer is dropped down in your position. You’ve just got to deal with it and have a mental toughness to be consistent. When you get into that Irish league circuit it is sometimes a lot of not what you know, but who you know”.
Newell is one of the finest finishers in the country and when asked about his favourite goal he certainly had plenty to choose from. He said: “My Favourite goal has to be out at a tournament in San Marino with Glenavon. We were playing Malmo and it must have been 30 degrees. I took the ball on the left wing, cut in and the keeper couldn’t get to it. That made it 5-2 to Malmo though”.
The striker, a boyhood Arsenal supporter, says he started playing that role after a certain French star. “Thierry Henry is my hero, and what a player. I Watched him score a hat trick against Portsmouth at Highbury once.”
When asked about his hopes and aspirations with Banbridge Rangers when soccer resumes after the Covid-19 epidemic ceases and it is safe enough to get back onto the pitch, Newell said: “I want to win the league. I came to Banbridge to try and win trophies and we’re in with a great chance should the league resume.
“But apart from competitive playing, I also have a passion for coaching and I’ve coached at my home town clubs of Annalong FC and Ballyvea. This is something I am interested in getting more into after my playing days come to an end. I definitely want to get into coaching again sooner rather than later. It would just be a dream job to be a coach for a top team that brings home the silver.”