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Family Affair: The Feeneys

21 February 2013

There aren't many footballing families who can claim to have had three generations represent their country, but that is precisely the proud boast that can be made by the Feeneys.

Warren Feeney, currently with npower League 2 Plymouth Argyle, made his international bow in 2002, while his dad, also named Warren, and granddad Jim represented Northern Ireland during their respective careers.

And it doesn't end there, with other family members also involved in the game.

"My dad used to wind me up when I was kid," the 32-year-old explained.

"He has one cap and he used to say 'don't talk to me until you've got one'. I got my first and it was even better when I got my second, because it meant I'd beaten him.

"He scored one goal, although his was a deflection on the line that some say was on own goal. He claims it's his, but to score for your country and to have three consecutive parts of the family do what we've done is great and I'm not sure if it'll be beaten.

"My dad's goal record back home in the Irish league was also phenomenal. He was a left winger and I'm not sure if it that ever get beaten either.

"My dad also has another son, Steven, who went over to America to play. He once broke his collarbone after about 38 seconds playing for California.

"I also have a cousin Lee who was quite famous back home and once signed for Rangers for about £100,000 in 1998. So there are a few of us who have played, all started by my granddad."

The Pilgrims striker also has high hopes in the game for one of the latest members of the Feeney clan.

His son George is just starting out in the game, but the front man would love to see him progress and become the latest Feeney to make the international stage.

"George has already been told he's the next one to play for Northern Ireland. I think there might be a bit of pressure on him, but he loves football.

"He's growing up with three girls who just want to dress him up in dresses, so I try and get him involved when I can. He plays for a Saturday morning club, so we'll see what happens."

If youngster George does carve a career out of football and gain international recognition, it should come as no surprise.

Particularly as his father, the one who is nurturing him, has made over 300 Football League appearances. Throughout his own career, Warren Feeney has had small reminders of his family's success in football.

"My granddad was a right-back. When I joined Swansea City people would talk about him, because he played there, too.

"There's a picture of him on the wall there and it was a no-brainer when I had that opportunity to play there as well, with the family connection.

"At Ipswich Town's Portman Road there's a brick with my granddad's name on - it's really nice to see things like that."

As well as playing for Swansea, Feeney has also played for a number of other clubs in The Football League during his 15 years in the game.

His most prolific spells came at the start of his career with Bournemouth and Stockport County, but he has had plenty of good times with other teams.

"I've loved all the clubs I've played for. The best thing is just getting a run of games and playing, which makes you feel good about yourself.

"I enjoyed doing that at Bournemouth and Stockport and banged in a few goals for them. I love scoring goals and just going to training every day.

"I enjoyed Swansea, although I didn't play that much. Everything about Swansea was different, even the recovery, it was just pure football.

"Even then I could see the foundations were being built for where they are now. Some of the players there now played in npower League 1.

"It would be great for Wales if Cardiff City [another of his former clubs] went up, too. They've been knocking on the door for a while.

"They have a solid club, a big fan base, and it would be phenomenal for both of them to be in the top flight."

The striker is at the other end of The Football League to the Bluebirds, though, fighting a League 2 relegation battle with Plymouth, although he's currently on the sidelines with an injury.

The Devon outfit sit 22nd in the table and are level on points with the two teams in the bottom two.

They have recently had a change in management with John Sheridan replacing Carl Fletcher in the Home Park dugout, and Feeney believes the team have what it takes to survive the drop.

"The new manager has been good and he has a ruthless streak that we need, particularly with the position we're in. It's tight down the bottom, but I'm confident we'll pull through.

"We were in this position last year and we have that experience to help us, but it's frustrating. Hopefully we can pull clear sooner rather than later.

"You don't want to be looking at teams around you; you just want to get to that safety level as quickly as possible.

"It is frustrating being at the bottom of League 2. You look at the facilities here and the club is geared for the Championship, it's ridiculous, but you have to look at where the club was last year, when it almost went out of business. You can't look ahead too far."

While many of the clubs he has represented are battling at the higher end of the footballing ladder, Warren Feeney is immediately focused on getting back to full fitness and helping the Pilgrims to safety in npower League 2.

He certainly has the footballing pedigree and know-how in his family if he ever needs any words of advice, that's for sure.

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