We take a look at the Bulls’ latest loan signing Ricardo Dinanga who has linked up with Hereford whilst in the middle of a two-year contract at Coventry City. The former Cork City starlet is keen to make a breakthrough after featuring largely in the Coventry U-23 squad.

New Bulls signing is “Very Bright”

Yep literally. Our loanee striker Ricardo Dinanga’s middle name is Flisberto, a Germanic name meaning very bright or very illustrious. The five foot nine, 20-year-old (21 on December 6) is Irish, born in Cork. His family originate from DR Congo.

Young Ricardo started his football journey in the Cork Schoolboy League with Ballincollig college and then Corinthian Boys before joining Cork City’s Academy. Ricardo played for Cork City’s under-17 side in 2018 and for their under-19s in 2019.

At 18, he was in City’s first team, scoring against Sligo Rovers plus a crucial 121st minute winner against Longford Town in the FAI Cup. ‘A superb effort into the top left-hand corner” according to broadcasters RTE. Watch it here

18yr old Ricardo Dinanga! Cork City FC winner lf goal of the season. | ‪18 yr old sensation Ricardo Dinanga! Goal of the season & young player of the year as voted for by the Cork City fans on @Eightyfour____ ‬… | By Premier Footballers UK Limited | Facebook

Under the Echo Live headline “Cork City’s new sensation Ricardo Dinanaga is heading for the top” Ricardo said: “scoring two goals in two games definitely meant a lot to me. For the manager to have belief in me and give me the opportunity to show what I can do has given me huge confidence.”

Sunderland were the first club to move in, offering a trial in January. As the player explained “I was initially meant to go for a week but my agent rang me towards the end of the week and said they wanted to keep me on for another week and would I mind staying.” The club and player liked each other but Sunderland could not agree a fee with Cork.

Coventry were the next suitors, apparently heading off an approach from Ipswich. The Sky Blues Development Squad were so impressed they were happy to pay the FIFA compensation fee. (Dinanga was a free agent, having refused to sign a Cork contract.). In July 2021, the Sky Blues made public their offer of a two-deal year with the option of another year after that. A deal was already privately agreed with the striker back in February.

Cork manager Colin Healy, talking to the Echo explained carefully “Ricardo’s a good lad. We had him in the Academy and he was here last year, and he decided to go down a different pathway. You do need a bit of luck to make it in England. It’s your attitude and your application, the way you train and look after yourself, what you do away from football. You have to be the ultimate professional to get to the highest level and its tough over there.”

The Irish Echo newspaper is keen on follow-up stories on the young winger. In December 2021, they contacted Ricardo for an update. “I’m currently living in digs which does help because I’m living with other players in a team and the people that look after us are very helpful, but it’s still not the same as being with your family. I’m lucky that my aunt lives in Birmingham so I can go over to her house on my days off and I really appreciate all that she has done for me. But I do miss home.”

The players sentiments tie in with those of his ex-manager. Moving away for the first time for work is hard for most young people. Playing for an U23 team sounds rich in potential but for the majority it’s a cruel dead end. The longer you are in, the less you want to be there as Cian Tyler will confirm.

Dinanga is essentially two footed and can play left wing, right wing or in the middle which helps. He made 14 appearances for the U23’s last season, scoring 3 times. Quite modest stats for a side which averaged nearly 3 goals a game but he was still young and raw. But now 18 months into his English adventure with his 21st birthday looming, his contract is running down and he’s become largely invisible. The Professional Development League no longer offers U23 football so Ricardo is now a senior player in the U21s. Their games are at the Alan Higgs centre in Coventry away from interested eyes.

As Ricardo admitted to the Echo last December “It’s great playing at U23 level but I often hear players speak about the benefits of playing men’s football and it would definitely be something I would not be against.” A year on and the need to get something on his CV is vital. Dinanga needs to live up to his very bright middle name, and quickly, otherwise he may be heading back to Cork next year. It is tough making a breakthrough.

Simon Wright

By Editor

Lifelong Hereford supporter who has endured the rise and fall of the club through progressive generations. Sports journalist, broadcaster and commentator who will never forget his Edgar Street roots.

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