New York City's Gary Mackay-Steven hasn't looked back after snubbing move to Portsmouth

Former Pompey target Gary Mackay-Steven doesn’t appear to regret his decision to snub the Blues in the summer.

Thursday, 17th October 2019, 1:36 pm
New York City's Gary Mackay-Steven Picture: Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

The one-time Scotland international was lined up to move to Fratton Park on a free transfer in June, bringing a two-year stay at Aberdeen to an end.

The Dons were keen to keep hold of him, but a Pompey medical was reportedly in the offing, with manager Kenny Jackett hopeful of wrapping up a deal.

That was until MLS side New York City re-entered the race to sign him, after a previous attempt in January broke down.

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Mackay-Steven’s head had been turned by the prospect of living and playing in the Big Apple under the stewardship of Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Barcelona, Domenec Torrent.

And the 29-year-old hasn’t looked back since after grabbing the opportunity Stateside ‘with both hands’.

He admits he’s ‘loving it’ at New York City, with Mackay-Steven – who’s made 12 appearances and scored once – helping his new team claim top spot in the MLS Eastern Conference.

The Scot told the Daily Record: ‘I’m enjoying every minute. I had visited New York several times and I have to pinch myself now I’m living here.

‘I can look out the window of my apartment and see the Empire State building and the Manhattan skyline.

‘I had the exact same image as a picture on the wall of my flat when I lived in Glasgow. Now I’m here and seeing it all for real? It’s crazy. I love it.

‘Travel and experiencing new places has always been a favourite past-time and the chance to sign for New York City was an amazing opportunity.

‘I’m 29 and over the last three or four years I came to realise that if I looked back on my career and hadn’t sampled a different country and playing style it would have been a cause of regret.

‘I never really had anywhere in mind to go, but if you had to mention three places in the world you’d want to live at some point in your life, New York would feature high up there, if not top of the list.

‘I was still enjoying Scottish football but there was contact from New York City last January, although we couldn’t conclude a deal on the last day of the transfer window.

‘I still had the league and Scottish Cup to focus on at Aberdeen, but when the opportunity arose again to move here at the end of the season I knew I had to grasp it with both hands.

‘I’d holidayed a few times in New York and although I’m on the other side of the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan as it’s easier to get up to Orangeburg for training, it’s only 15 minutes into the city.

‘New York has everything, you can never be bored. I’m enjoying every minute, but I’ve got to stress football was the driving force in my decision to move here.

‘I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some terrific players and coaches over the years but the chance to be guided by Domenec Torrent, who has an amazing CV and vast knowledge of the game, was a huge factor. I’ve got the best of both worlds.’

Pompey brought in winger Ryan Williams following the collapse of the Mackay-Steven deal, with the former academy product returning to the club on a free transfer from Rotherham.

Jackett also splashed the cash on fellow wide man Marc Harness, with a fee of around £1m paid to Burton Albion.