Downey signs to Dutch club

THE career of Gympie soccer product Jimmy Downey has gone international with the young wingback signing a contract with Dutch club Sparta Rotterdam.

Downey, 22, finalised the contract earlier this week following his first trial with the European club.

The contract is for one year with the option for another – a major breakthrough for Downey.

He played for Perth Glory last year before transferring to North Queensland Fury for the last five games of the season.

The Gympie athlete was left in limbo after his contact with North Queensland Fury was up for renewal and embroiled in financial turmoil.

The signing for Sparta Rotterdam couldn’t have come at a better time.

Helping push the deal through over in Holland was former Olyroo and FFA technical director Rob Baan.

Baan is thought to have played a key role in allowing the deal to go through after Downey impressed on the field.

Former agent for Downey, Richard Rudzki from The Onside Agency, told media the trial in Rotterdam was the first of four trials lined up in England and Holland.

“Three years ago when he was signed by Glory, Ron Smith was a massive fan and we thought he’d kick on,” Rudzki said.

“He didn’t get a gig with the Olympic team in 2008 which was very disappointing (and something) we didn’t understand.

“He then got injured and is his last season at Perth, he got re-injured – and the net result was that he didn’t really get fit enough and became a fringe player.”

Rudzki thought Downey may not have been in peak condition ahead of the trial with the Dutch club but the Gympie player proved his worth.

“We didn’t think he was ready but he really, really backed himself,” Rudzki said.

“His first trial was at Sparta Rotterdam and there he showed his extraordinary pace.”

Sparta Rotterdam was relegated to the second tier from the top flight Eredivisie last season but is tipped to fight its way back into promotion contention this year.

For Downey, the move heralds massive opportunities as his career continues to expand.

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