St Patrick's Athletic can confirm that midfielder Robbie Benson will join the club for the 2020 season.
27 year old Benson joins the Saints having spent four seasons with Dundalk in which he won three league titles, an FAI Cup and played key roles in the Lilywhites' successful runs in both the Champions League qualifiers and Europa League group stages.
Speaking to stpatsfc.com having agreed terms to join the Saints, Benson, who also had spells with Athlone Town and UCD, outlined his delight at joining the Inchicore club and spoke of his happiness to link up once more with Stephen O'Donnell.
"I'm happy with the move and I am looking forward to the next stage in my career. Stephen got onto me and informed me of what he was setting out to do at the club and it seemed like the right fit for me and a chance to seek a new challenge. I know Stephen and have great respect for him so it was easy for me to make the jump and join Pat's."
"Stephen is a person who was a great teammate, captain, person and mentor to me in my time at Dundalk. Anyone who knows Stephen or played with him or encountered him will know his philosophies on the game and how much knowledge of the game he has. He now has a good platform to put his stamp on things, and that married with a club the stature of St Pat's, it's a great platform for Stephen. He can bring success back to St Pat's and hopefully I can play a small part in helping in that."
Benson admitted to being an admirer of the club from afar, reflecting on his earlier memories of facing the Supersaints during his time at UCD where he played under the guidance of Saints' legend Martin Russell.
"My first experience playing in the Premier Division was for UCD years ago at a time when Pat's were the main force and strongest team in the league. Some of the toughest games I have ever had came at that time and were against Pat's. I can recall tough games against other clubs but the football that Pat's played was some of the best standard of football that I've ever come up against.
"Richmond Park is always a great venue to go to and when it's really going and the fans are behind the team, it's a very special place. I have always admired Pat's as a club that has a good reputation, and it is known for a good brand of playing football that I can identify with. I just hope that I can add to the club, and help us be successful.
"I'm looking forward to get to know the history of the club and getting to know people here and be involved in the wider club and community in general and giving back to them is exciting for me as well."
Reflecting on the addition of Benson to his squad, St Pat's first team head coach Stephen O'Donnell admitted he was thrilled to make his second new signing ahead of the 2020 season after the Saints completed the signing of UCD winger Jason McClelland last week.
"I'm delighted to acquire a player of Robbie's calibre. I think he is one of the best players in the league and it's huge for Pat's to have a player like that in the prime of his career in our ranks now. He's a player I know well having played with him at Dundalk, and I look forward to working with him and I think it's a big statement from the club ahead of next season.
"Robbie has been there and done it in the league and has excelled on the European stage. We are talking about someone who scored a famous volleyed goal in the final qualifiers of the Champions League against Legia Warsaw, and he has scored in big Europa League games against Zenit St Petersburg and in Dundalk's win over BATE Borisov. Robbie can play and excel at a European stage and they are the type of acquisitions that we are looking at trying to make here," O'Donnell told stpatsfc.com.
"We signed Jay McClelland last week from UCD and he is another one with a good profile as a young player with a lot of talent. For someone like him, we'll be looking for Robbie to lead by example, and be a leader in the dressing room that younger players can to look up to."
Reflecting on the close season ahead, O'Donnell admitted that he expects to complete further business in the days and weeks ahead.
"We'll be looking to add further signings over the coming weeks, but we know it is important to sign quality over quantity. We are not going to sign players for the sake of it. We are going to sign the right players for St Pat's and we are going to do our due diligence on every player that comes through the door."
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