WHILE Steven Beattie still isn’t exactly sure on where he will be playing for Cork City, he is keen to have as much of an impact off the field as well as on it.
The Dubliner’s return was announced three weeks ago, a coup for manager Colin Healy as the Rebel Army get ready for life in the SSE Airtricity League First Division.
Beattie’s previous sojourn on Leeside came during the John Caulfield era, signing from Sligo Rovers midway through the 2015 season as the club challenged Dundalk for domestic honours.
While he initially featured as a winger, by the time City won the FAI Cup in 2016 he was operating at right-back and he was a stalwart there during the 2017 double season.
Having left City for Chattanooga Red Wolves in Tennessee at the end of 2018, he played most of his football in the United Soccer League further up the field.
He hasn’t yet discussed with Healy where he will feature, but they have talked about he can be a positive force in the dressing-room.
“To be perfectly honest, we haven’t spoken about [my position],” Beattie says.
“The main thing we’ve spoken about is what he wants from me off the pitch. I think he knows what I can do on the field and what I can bring to the team, but it’s more getting that leadership back into the group – the tight dressing-room that we had in previous years and the team spirit where the lads want to win at all costs, for the club and for ourselves.
“That’s the conversation at the moment but, reading between the lines, I think I might be further up the pitch.
“There genuinely hasn’t been a conversation about it.
"Young Uniss Kargbo is a good right-fill and there are others. I know I can do a job there but, at the same time, I think I can do a job further up the pitch, too.”
Regardless of how long his time back in Cork lasts for, Beattie expects a return to the US in the future.
“I always wanted to give it a bash,” he says.
“I was over there on a scholarship when I was 18 and I kept the line open.
“I love it over there, the lifestyle and everything that goes with it. My agent is American, so that’s how he got me back over there.
“I was given the captaincy as soon as I went over there, and I was played in the 10 or on the right wing.
“I was loving it, to be fair – I was playing well and scoring goals but then my knee went towards the end of the 2019 season.
“I was actually rehabbing when Covid hit, so that delayed me, but thankfully now I’m fully fit.
That coaching education will incorporate a role as part of the backroom team of City U19 manager Dan Murray. In terms of hunger and desire, he feels that young Irish players show a better attitude than some of their American counterparts.
“Technically, the League of Ireland would be better,” Beattie says, “but these American lads are all really well-built athletes.
“They’ve probably played a lot of sports going up and they’re machines, essentially, but on the technical side they struggle.
“It was an experience, to say the least, and I say that as much in terms of off the pitch. The young lads, they were playing in the third division in American and they thought they had made it.
“You contrast that with City – we’re back in training and the footballs are out and the young lads just want to learn. They know that this is a good opportunity to get first-team football and use it as a stepping stone.
"Over there, they’re content to make a small amount of money and then that’s it, they’ve made it as professional football.
“When you see that lads aren’t as committed as yourself, it nearly hurts you in a way.
“You just can’t get through to some lads because that’s the way they’re built.”
Given the chance to help shape the futures of the next City crop was just as appealing as the opportunity to try to help the club achieve promotion.
“I’m loving that side of it, to be honest,” he says.
“It’s natural that teenagers mightn’t want to ask a question in a group setting but then I get a lot of them coming up to me after training with queries. Things like the gym, nutrition, I love all that side of it so it’s great when they do ask.
“I remember when I was that age or even older – I was 25 or 26 when I came to City and I’d pick the brains of Benno [Alan Bennett], Nults [Mark McNulty], Liam Miller, Colin Healy.
"It’s funny, now Colin’s the gaffer and I’m filling Colin’s role as the player giving advice!
“I do love that side of it, though. I’ve been there and when lads ask me questions, if I don’t have an answer I’d nearly go out of my way to get them one.
“Obviously, I’ll learn a lot on the coaching side from Muzzer too, so it’s beneficial on both sides.”