Byline: by GARETH MAHER
PORTUGAL: popular destination for retirees looking to kick back and enjoy a slower pace of life, less so the ideal spot for an Irish footballer looking to kick-start a career. That is what Dominic Foley discovered when he signed for Braga in 2003.
The Cork native had agreed to join the little-known Portuguese club, with big plans to compete with the likes of Porto, Sporting Lisbon and Benfica. It was this ambition, and the need for a fresh start, that lured Foley.
Having spent close to a decade shuttling around various clubs in England on loan in between trying to make it at Wolves and then Watford, the big striker knew that he had to get away.
The Republic of Ireland international briefly tasted life in another European league when he joined Greek outfit Ethnikos Piraeus in 1999, but that was short-lived. So when agent Mickey Walsh suggested going to Portugal, he jumped at the opportunity.
'My agent had connections in Portugal due to his time playing for Porto and he also had a house there. He knew that I didn't mind moving around, so he asked me whether I would be interested,' Foley told Sportsmail.
'I was open to the idea of it, so I went over and trained with them for 10 days and they were happy with what they saw and offered me a two-year deal. But after one year, I knew that I had had enough.
'Braga is one of those old cities where everything is done tomorrow and it just wasn't for me. My wife was with me at the time and we just weren't happy there and never really settled.
'Even though it was close to Porto, it felt like you were in the middle of nowhere. The heat wasn't a huge factor, but the pace of life there didn't suit and it was like living in the past sometimes with how slow it took to get things done,' said Foley of the city of fewer than 175,000 occupants.
'The people are crazy about football, but it was a city that I never felt comfortable in and knew quite early that it was never going to work out. It is a place that I didn't see myself having a future.'
Foley never settled into life as a Braga player either with just the one goal scored during a season that stopped and started more times than he would care to remember. …