Ex-Norwich City defender Kyle McFadden joins the boys from Brazil at the Maracana
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Former Norwich City FA Youth Cup winner Kyle McFadden is set to grace Brazil's iconic Maracana Stadium just months after being shown the door by the Canaries.
The 20-year-old defender is now a team-mate of the legendary Kaka at Orlando FC, who face Flamengo on Sunday at the stadium that hosted the 2014 World Cup final as part of the Rio-based club's 120th anniversary celebrations.
'It's mad. I couldn't believe it when I first heard. I can't wait for it. It's unbelievable,' said McFadden, who was released by Norwich in the summer. 'He is a massive signing for Orlando and of course in Brazil he is a legend. The first three or four days when I arrived at the club were a bit surreal, going out onto the training pitch with Kaka. Now he is just one of the lads. We are all together and we do things together after training. We are mates, the same as in any team.'
Wycombe, Walsall and Dagenham were staging posts in a journey which has propelled the Republic of Ireland youth international all the way to Florida's Sunshine State and the 'Lions'.
McFadden admits it is a world away from the training pitches of Colney as he embarks on a new life between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
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'You never know what is around the corner in football. When I left Norwich I went to a few places in England but it didn't work out. Some managers have their way of playing and I didn't fit in. That is fine,' he says. 'Adrian Heath (Orlando FC manager) had seen me play and because I was a free agent they wanted to sign me up. Thankfully I have got a three-year deal here now so I want to progress in the MLS. When I was at Norwich there was a possibility this could happen because I was told the Orlando management were big fans.
'At that stage I didn't really buy into it at the time because my priority was to stay in England and hopefully get a new deal at Norwich. I spoke to my management again in the summer and they said Orlando still want you and to get over there as soon as possible. I didn't have to go on trial or anything, I actually signed the deal in England.'
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The Donegal native returns to Norwich later this month during his extended off-season.
'I actually dropped Ricky Martin a text and he said I am more than welcome to come in and train, which is good of them,' he says. 'I just want to work with the Under-18s or the Under-21s because over here you get two months, which is a very long off-season, but it would be good to see the lads. We are back in for pre-season on January 20. The season starts end of March. That is something new as well. I've never had Christmas off before as a player. My girlfriend is in Norwich so we might have to have two Christmases. One in England and one in Ireland.'