AFTER recently signing for English Championship side Coventry City, former Cork City striker Ricardo Dinanga revealed that he was close to signing for Sunderland months before completing his move to the Sky Blues.
Dinanga spent two weeks on trial with the Black Cats but the move never materialised due to Sunderland’s inability to agree a compensation fee for the 19-year-old. However, Coventry were quick to snap up the youngster after he impressed them during his trial with the club.
“I was delighted to sign with Coventry. I came on trail here back in April and must of impressed because they agreed to pay the compensation fee very quickly.
“I signed a pre-contract with the club before I came back to Cork for a break in the summer. Nothing could be announced because of the transfer window not being open. I couldn’t officially become a Coventry player until July. I just had to keep everything quiet for a bit. I told my family and close friends when I came home but that was it.
“It could have been different because I went on trial with Sunderland in January. I was initially meant to go for a week but my agent rang me towards the end of the first week and said they wanted to keep me on for another week and would I mind staying.
“The second week went well and it looked as if I would be signing for them but they couldn’t agree a fee with City.
“It all worked out for the best. I’m living with three other players on the team in digs at the moment. We don’t really do much away from training. I tend to relax more when I come home and just try and recover for the next session or game. I have an aunt close by, so I do go over to her house sometimes at the weekend if I’m off.”
Although Dinanga was out of contract with City at the end of last season, the Sky Blues did have to pay a fee for the player because of the investment City had done in helping him develop during his time with the club.
The 19-year-old was offered a contract by City last summer but decided to try his luck by seeing could he get a club in England.
“When Neale Fenn was City manager, he offered me a contract. It was the first time I’d been offered a professional contract but I’d heard there were clubs who might be interested in me from England, and it was always my ambition to play there, so, my agent thought it would be best not to sign.
“When Colin Healy came in as manager, he spoke to me again about signing a contract but by then, there was solid interest from Ipswich Town. I was meant to go there on trial as well but because of Covid that never happened.
I knew I hadn’t played many games for City’s first team, and to get offered my first professional contract was amazing but I’ve always dreamt of playing in England and had to pursue that dream.”
Having initially signed for Coventry’s U23 side, Dinanga has already made an impression with the first team by scoring his first goal in a pre-season friendly and is looking to impress manager Mark Robins in the coming months.
“It was an unbelievable feeling to get my first goal. The manager called myself and a few other of the U23s over to train with the first team the day before the MK Dons game. I was playing as a number 10 but wasn’t sure what I was fully doing because it was a new position for me.
“Luckily, I scored early on and I played really well. The manager seem pleased because he spoke to me after the game telling me how well I had done. I’ve appeared in a few games since and will be hoping to get in and about the first team at some stage during the season."
Before completing his transfer to Coventry, Dinanga contacted former College Corinthians teammate Adam Idah about playing in England.
“Adam has had a great career so far. He’s just won promotion with Norwich to the Premier League.
“I played with him for four years at schoolboy level with Corinthians. We have become good friends and it would have been naïve of me not to ring him up and ask for advice. He encouraged me to get to England.”
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