Aaron Connolly is hopeful his year-long stint in Italy will kickstart his club and international careers as he gave some explanation for his slump in form.
The Republic of Ireland striker signed for Venezia in Serie B earlier this month after it became clear to him he was surplus to requirements at Brighton, but the Galwegian told Irish Football Fan TV that the move is already paying off, as his confidence and love of football returns in a new environment.
"Physically and mentally, I haven't felt this strong in a long time, " said Connolly, who suggested the company he was keeping off the field was impacting his form at Brighton and during last year's loan stint at Middlesbrough.
"A lot of people know why I haven't kicked on and I know myself. That’s why this move to Italy was vital, just to get away from the circle I was in back in England, I needed a fresh start," explained the 22-year-old.
"My confidence was on the deck, when I missed chances and hadn’t been playing. I wasn’t in the right place to go on loan last year. I did it because I wanted to play football but I wish this version of myself right now had showed up at Middlesbrough. It would have been a different story.
"Mentally, I wouldn’t have been able to move abroad last season. I wouldn’t have been excited. But this time, I couldn’t say yes quick enough."
Connolly said Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny and his assistant Keith Andrews showed the attacker video analysis of his last start, against Azerbaijan in Dublin last September, which illustrated how much his on-field energy had dropped.
He is now determined to fight his way back into international reckoning, even if he suggested he has played his last game for Graham Potter's Brighton.
"It’s either keep going in the phase I was going in and eventually I’ll just be completely forgotten. At the minute I’m probably the forgotten man in Irish football and if I kept associating with people I’d been associating with before, I would have completely gone off the scale," said Connolly.
"That love for football has probably faded in the last three seasons. Everyone can probably tell by my performances at times. And maybe the way I carried myself on the pitch and sometimes off it.
"Now I'm in a better headspace, you look back at games and think 'Was I really walking around for that long? Did I really have my head down for this long? Did I really walk around like that?’"
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