Motherwell manager Graham Alexander has hailed Fir Park keeper Liam Kelly after he walked away from a “very good contract” at QPR to move to Fir Park permanently so he could play regular football – admitting it was a “very difficult scenario” for the Scotland squad keeper.
Kelly has been a massive player for the Steelmen since initially arriving on loan from the R’s and Alexander confessed that Kelly’s determination to play meant it was hard for him to sit on the bench under Mark Warburton in England.
The keeper made 22 appearances in his debut campaign at the Kiyan Price Foundation Stadium but lost his place to Joe Lumley before ex-Dundee loanee Sney Dieng took the gloves and left Kelly sitting on the bench.
The Motherwell star arrived at Fir Park a day before Alexander was appointed as Stephen Robinson’s replacement as Motherwell boss and the Steelmen manager quickly made him his first-choice.
While it would have been easy for Kelly to sit back and let the money pile up, Alexander thinks it is a credit to the ex-Rangers and Livingston keeper that he took the chance to play consistently, insisting he’ll remember the trophies he won in his career much more than what car he was driving.
“When Liam joined us on loan in January he was desperate to play football and it was clear to him that he wasn’t going to get an opportunity [at QPR],” he said [Herald].
“He was on a very good contract and we couldn’t get close to matching it but he was determined to play. He’d had the experience of being a number one here and at Livingston and – if you have the mentality Liam has – it’s a very difficult scenario when you’ve had that and it’s taken away from you.
“He’s ambitious and he knew, after spending four months with us, what our ambitions are for the future and he wanted to commit himself to us and be part of that. Trust me, once you’ve retired you don’t remember what car you were driving when you were 26 but you remember what trophies you won and the matches you played in.
“The important thing for footballers is their career and being on the pitch as often as possible and that’s how Kells feels as well. We all have bills to pay and kids to feed but, if you’re a professional footballer, then your first priority should be playing football. There are guys who would be content to sit there and take the money and you can’t have a go at them because the clubs are paying it and it all depends on your lifestyle – you might need those big wages.
“But I think it can sometimes be a trap which players fall into: they think they’re successful because they’re earning a lot of cash but real success is being part of a winning team on the pitch and having those memories because they’ll be with you forever. Scotland was a driving force in his motivation to come back to us. He wanted to put himself in the shop window for Steve Clarke and he’s had the experience of being back in the international squad this season, which is great for him and for us.”
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