America’s Bobby Edwards out to grab Irish League chance with both gloves
Having spent his first few days in Northern Ireland from America exploring on foot, Bobby Edwards’ focus for the rest of his time here will narrow from miles to metres between the goalposts.
Team-mates got a first glimpse of the 23-year-old in training last Monday night - standing at 6 ft 6 inches he is hard to miss.
Supporters had to wait around another 24 hours as Edwards enjoyed a clean sheet and win over top-flight opposition in the 2-0 defeat of Dungannon Swifts.
It proved a perfect platform on which to grow for the commanding Edwards.
“It is still early in terms of measuring what I should expect from the game in Northern Ireland but, certainly, everyone has made me feel so welcome,” said Edwards. “The people around the club have been fantastic helping me settle in and my team-mates deserve a lot of credit for how things went in the Dungannon game.
“Having the guys in front work so hard takes the pressure off me and it allowed me to adjust and enjoy what I felt was a relatively solid debut overall.
“I’ve a lot to learn and am still settling into living in Northern Ireland but really looking forward to helping Portadown this season.
“As much as I’m ambitious in terms of my career, the only focus at the minute is on doing what I can for Portadown and the guys have gone above and beyond so far to welcome me into everything.
“I got to see the Shamrock Park facilities in person during training on Monday and have been able to meet some of the people around the club, so instantly you get that sense of what the club means to everyone.”
Edwards’ progress across the youth and college system in America offered a solid grounding in the game and, this summer, attracted the attention of the Ports.
When presented with the opportunity to experience life and a league outside his homeland, it proved one he wanted to grab with both hands.
“I’ve spent a few days during the holiday period acting as a tourist I suppose, walking around Belfast and hanging out with some of the other players,” said Edwards. “But I’m here to develop and, ultimately, help Portadown win the league and secure promotion.
“I’ve spent a lot of time watching highlights of last season’s games and trying to get a feel for everything but, obviously, that will really come with time together.
“This is my first time living outside America but can obviously keep in touch with everyone back home thanks to modern technology and there remains such a buzz within my family and former clubs.
“Over the season I know people back home will be keeping an eye on my progress here with Portadown.
“Already the guys who take care of the highlights and social media footage at Portadown have been talking to me and I’m sure friends and family in America will be keen to check everything out once it goes up online across the season.
“The language of football is universal and growing up in America I was around so many different cultures, so those playing experiences should all help me settle.
“My high school has a massive reputation for football back home and we had players from all over Europe and Africa.
“Already it has been great working with Matthew Tipton, plus the rest of the management and staff and from previous conversations with David Miskelly it was clear he has such a knowledge of the position.
“My cousin played in Sweden and both my father and uncle were goalkeepers, so it is in the blood and I’ve played football since I can remember.
“Growing up it was hard to see footage from outside America and you had to do quite a bit of searching around the channels.
“However, it is obviously so much easier now to keep on top of the Premier League and top European games and I focus a lot of goalkeepers similar physically to help study and improve my game.
“I’ve never really had one particular team but instead focus on players and follow those around the clubs or leagues.
“Our MLS back home has changed so dramatically over the years, although it dates back to the 1990s.
“Across the college system I have become friends or played against quite a few now in our professional Major League Soccer or at clubs around Europe.
“It is so great to see that development and I’m excited about this opportunity now at Portadown and just want to work hard and help the team become successful.”