Lincoln City manager declares signing of Ireland under-21 Zack Elbouzedi from Waterford 'a bit of a coup'

Tue, Dec 17 2019

Elbouzedi celebrates his first Blues goal in a February win over Munster rivals Cork City. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

Lincoln City manager Michael Appleton says he’s pulled off a ‘a bit of coup’ warding off suitors from the League of Ireland and beyond to land Ireland under-21 winger Zack Elbouzedi.

The Dubliner has spent the past year in the league with Waterford and made a significant impression on under-21 manager Stephen Kenny.

His six goals in 29 games helped the Blues to a sixth-place finish in the table and he became first-choice on the wing for Kenny, scoring in vital Euro 2021 qualifying wins over Armenia and Sweden.

The 21-year-old had attracted the attention of champions Dundalk and FAI Cup winners Shamrock Rovers in the off-season but his preference was always to return to the UK.

“He’s a very exciting young player,” said Appleton.

“He has had a good year in terms of the stuff he’s been doing for Ireland Under 21’s. He’s gone under the radar a little playing for Waterford in the Irish league.

“We see this as a little bit of a coup for the football club, there’s been a few clubs showing a lot of interest in him.

“He’s a winger who can play on both sides, but prefers to play on the right side. He’s quick, very direct and tends to make good decisions when he gets into good areas.”

Elbouzei started out with Malahide United as a youth and spent time as a trainee with West Bromwich Albion before spells in Scotland with Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Elgin City.

A bad injury curtailed his time in Scotland and he returned to Ireland late last year in hope of reigniting his passion for the game and found it at the RSC.

Elbouzedi added: “The season was brilliant for me and I have to thank Waterford for giving me the platform to end up making the move here and playing for the national team.

“The manager, Alan Reynolds, when I went there told me I was going to play games and be back enjoying my football, which was important. I ended up flying.”

 “I was in West Brom and it’s tough to break through there. I ended up going home and playing in Ireland, but it was always the goal to come back and test myself.

“It had to be the right club, and I feel like Lincoln is the right club for me to progress and take the next step in my career.”