The inevitable has happened. Conor Sammon has completed his transfer from Kilmarnock. The young Irishman signed for Wigan in the closing few minutes of the transfer window, for a reported £600,000.
Credit where it is due, and I am pleased to see Sammon get his move to the best league in the world. As a regular on the Rugby Park terraces, I remember 12 months ago, even 6 months ago when Conor Sammon was a figure of ridicule. Not SPL quality was the general consensus, maybe he’d find his level and move down a few leagues some said. “You’ll be playing junior next year, Sammon!” was the cry from one disgruntled fan, as the striker blasted over against Celtic, just last year. That comment particularly stuck in my mind – because I feared it may come true.
Even this season, against Valladolid in pre-season when Conor Sammon was warming up the response from the fans was negative. Their opinion was clear, Conor Sammon was not fit for the SPL or the Kilmarnock front line.
Incoming manager Mixu Paatelainen had different ideas. Despite signing his own striker, Rui Miguel, he chose Conor Sammon to lead the line and prove his worth. The majority of Killie fans were sceptical to say the least. And for the first few games they seemed correct, until a fateful night against Airdrie changed that all.
Airdrie visited Ayrshire in the league cup, and Conor Sammon had looked out his shooting boots. Clinically, he put the visitors to the sword with a hat-trick. It was at this point the young man’s season skyrocketed.
Everything he touched turned to gold. Scoring goals for apparent fun, including goals at Tynecastle and Celtic Park, no mean feat.
A bad player doesn’t magically become a good player overnight, clearly Conor Sammon always possessed the ability. His work alongside Paatelainen and assistant Kenny Shiels has clearly worked wonders. The tutoring from the former goal machine Paatelainen has got the best out of Sammon’s game.
When Sammon was brought on against Hearts at Rugby Park, the same day he refused a transfer to Scunthorpe, he was given a true heroes welcome. Just a few months earlier he would have been treated like an outcast by many. Nobody is as fickle as the football fan. 15 goals in 20 starts the catalyst for the change of heart no doubt.
Congratulations to Conor Sammon, who has propelled himself from the League of Ireland to the SPL and now the English Premier League in 3 seasons. Congratulations to Mixu Paatelainen who turned the supposed flop into a 500k+ player.
No player has worked harder or more consistently than Sammon to get where he is. It is with a heavy heart I see him leave Rugby Park, but I can’t wait to see him on Match of the Day.