2018 Player of the Year Chris Shields signs new long-term contract with DundalkThu, Apr 25 2019
Dundalk have announced that midfielder Chris Shields has signed a long-term contract extension with the champions.
The 28-year-old, who was recently crowned SSE Airtricity League Player of the Year for 2018, has agreed a contract of unspecified length with the club.
Shields is now in his eighth season at the club and has amassed 265 appearances for the Lilywhites with the most recent coming in Monday’s victory over UCD.
Shields has won four league titles in that time, two FAI Cups, two EA SPORTS Cups, two Presidents Cups and has been named in the PFAI Team of the Year also.
He has played a prominent role in Dundalk’s European matches since 2014 and has made a total of 21 appearances across UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
The Clondalkin native moved to Oriel Park from Bray Wanderers ahead of the 2012 campaign and is now the club’s longest-serving player alongside John Mountney.
“It’s great to get it done,” Shields told the club’s website.
“It is something I wanted to get sorted over the past few weeks but with the schedule of games that we have had I had to wait to get that out of the way but it’s the right time to do it.
“I have had great years here at the club. We have won many trophies, cups, leagues and everything in the past few seasons.
“My progression as a player only helps with the players around me. We have always had a fantastic squad and it’s a privilege to be part of it. “
Shields reflected on the injuries that the side have suffered this season and is full of praise for the strength of the current squad.
“It’s a strong squad here now. Vinny [Perth], Stevie [O’Donnell], John [Gill], Ruaidhri [Higgins] and everyone has done a great job. There has been great recruitment here over the past few years.
“We have had a few injuries to cope with, myself, Robbie Benson, Patrick McEleney, Stephen Folan, we have been unlucky with things but we have got a few back now.
“It’s good to get everyone back on the pitch. It shows the strength of the squad that we were able to cope for long periods without them and we want to kick on now. “
The Lilywhites are in action against Shamrock Rovers on Friday evening and Shields is looking forward to the clash and is intent on continuing the current winning run.
“We got three wins on the bounce which was important to us. We needed those wins and it was good to get them. They were tough games and we got through them.
“We are slowly but surely getting back to our ways. The games are coming thick and fast. Rovers have had a good start to the season. It’s going to be one to relish for us.
“It’s going to be a tough game but we are looking forward to it and hopefully we can continue our good form.”
Also speaking to the club website was head coach Perth, who believes that Chris has ‘no ceiling’ to his improvement and is understandably happy to see him remain at Oriel Park.
“It’s brilliant for the club. I remember back to the so called dark days when we stayed in the league through the playoff and Chris was captain that day. He has achieved wonderful things since then.
“The challenge for Chris is to keep going. I keep saying to him that there is no ceiling to his talent and seven years ago not many people would think he would have achieved what he has achieved right now.
“He wants to continue and improving. He has done that every year. He has added different facets to his game. I hope this new contract and the security that we have given him will give him the confidence to go forward, to kick on again.
“He gets better all the time. It is predominantly down to him and all of the hard work that he puts in on the training ground.
“Myself and Stephen (Kenny) took him in as a utility centre half, as a bit of cover, during that first year.
“It’s hard to believe that is what we were thinking back then! What he has done at this club has been phenomenal.
“He has had some great nights here and some great European adventures. I don’t want him to think that this is done yet.
“I want him to keep dreaming of having big nights. He has the mindset to keep going.”
Shields is closing in on 300 games for Dundalk and Perth is hoping he can reach that milestone soon and has hailed him as ‘a real leader’ for the club.
“His appearances is top class, at 265. Hopefully he can break 300 real soon. His goals per game record isn’t that high so if there is anything he can improve on it would be that.
“He has been a real leader for his. He is one of the most respected players in the group.”
Perth was full of praise for the board and feels the club is in a better place with the midfielder remaining at the club.
“Full credit must go to the board and the owners who at this early stage have helped us secure the signing of one of our highly rated talents.
“The club is in a better place with Chris Shields at it. It’s good news for the club that he is staying.”