Former Peterborough United left-back Daniel Lafferty has penned a deal with Institute in Northern Ireland’s second tier after leaving Sligo Rovers.
The left-back, who began his career with Scottish giants Celtic, has been in Ireland since his last loan spell with Peterborough ended in 2019. Now aged 34, the Derry-born player believes he can help add value to their younger players, as well as aid a push towards the top flight.
“The conversations we have had have been around that,” Lafferty acknowledged when talking about adding value off the field. “Without blowing my own trumpet, I have a good CV and they have signed a lot of young players this year and they have done excellently so if I help in any way develop those young players and help them along the way with any issues on the pitch, then I’ll be more than happy to assist with that, and hopefully that’s the case.”
Institute are currently top of the table, and they play their home games at the Brandywell Stadium, home of Derry City, which is a ground familiar to Lafferty. He has appeared for the Candystripes in recent seasons, spending two years there between 2020 and 2022.
After coming through the Celtic academy, Lafferty enjoyed a loan spell at Ayr United, as well as represented his country through to Under 21 level. He also made a single appearance for the Northern Ireland B team, but in 2010 moved back to Derry. He won the LOI Cup with them, and promotion, which led to trials with Derby and Brighton; both came to nothing. However, in January 2012, he signed a deal with Championship side Burnley worth around £150,000.
His most consistent run in their team came in 2012/13, where he appeared 24 times in the Championship, and he made a single Premier League appearance in 2014/15. He also had loan spells with Rotherham (Championship) and Oldham (League One) before securing a permanent move to League One side Sheffield United. He helped them to promotion, the fourth of his career, in 2016/17, but struggled to assert himself in the first team after stepping up to the Championship.
In 2018/19, he spent 21 matches on loan with Peterborough United, a deal struck with manager Steve Evans, under whom he’d played at Rotherham. Evans admitted he’d tried to sign Lafferty in the previous summer, and it seemed he might have found a home. However, weeks after he arrived, Evans was sacked. Following his release by the Blades six months later, Posh didn’t renew their interest and he returned to Ireland, appearing for Shamrock Rovers, Derry and latterly Sligo Rovers.
He also brings international experience to Institute, who face Ards this weekend and are due to ‘host’ Derry in the Billy Kee Memorial Trophy later in the month. He appeared 13 times for his country and was last in the squad in 2017 for World Cup qualifiers.
Daniel Lafferty had a solid career in England and had Steve Evans not been sacked, it’s likely he’d have gotten a deal in the summer. Evans likes his generals and often signs the same players multiple times, as seen with Alex MacDonald. However, it wasn’t to be, and he returned to Ireland, where he won two FAI Cups (one with Derry, another with Shamrock) and the LOI Premier Division.
It is that experience which Institute wants to draw from, and whilst his legs might not be as quick as they used to be, there’s plenty Lafferty can add to the team. His career in England will also give some learning points, especially having worked under Evans, twice!