Dundalk FC have been boosted a little over 24 hours before the start of the new SSE Airtricity League season with the news that influential midfielder Chris Shields has signed a new deal to keep him at the club until the end of next season.
Shields is about to enter a ninth season at the Oriel Park club and his new deal will take him to ten full seasons as a Lilywhite. Having joined the club as a 21-year-old ahead of the 2012 season in which a cash-strapped Dundalk just escaped relegation and potential oblivion, Shields has gone on to establish himself as a club legend.
He has won five league titles, two FAI Cups, two League Cups and two Presidents Cup while at the club, while also playing a key role in the club’s run to the UEFA Europa League group stages in 2016.
“Since day one I’ve been happy to be here and who would have thought I’d be going into 10 years at the club! That’s very rare in the League of Ireland and I take real personal pride in it,” Shields told the club’s official website.
“I’ve seen so many players come and go over the past decade so to be a constant is nice and it’s great knowing that I can just concentrate on my football now for the next two years. If I get my testimonial it will be some party!”
Shields was nominated for the SWAI Personality of the Year 2019 alongside his team mate Sean Gannon, an award which was ultimately won by Dundalk boss Vinny Perth.
CHRIS SHIELDS FACTFILE
Get to know Dundalk’s midfield stalwart Chris Shields
Perth praised the Clondalkin man, hailing him as “one of the most decorated players in the history of the League of Ireland.”
“Chris Shields sums up everything about Dundalk Football Club. He has been through the good times and the bad. He was here for the relegation play-off game in Waterford in 2012 and he has been here for all of the success we’ve had over the past seven years,” Perth said.
“This will be his ninth season at the club and he has gone from being a squad player to becoming one of the most decorated players in the history of the League of Ireland. It’s a testament to Chris and how hard he works, both on and off the pitch. He is a true legend of the club and long may that continue.”
Looking ahead to the 2020 season in which Dundalk’s main aim will be to retain their league title, Shields said; “The hunger never goes and the drive within the squad to win every trophy on hand is frightening. You don’t want to see a squad become lacklustre and be happy with what you’ve done in years gone by.
“We want to keep striving to become more successful every year and that’s definitely the aim for everybody in the squad.”
Shields is likely, as ever, to start in Friday evening’s season opener against Derry City. However, John Mountney – who is the club’s other longest serving player having arrived in the same window as Shields in 2012 – is out and Sean Murray has a knock. New signing Stefan Colovic is not yet available for selection.