Dylan Levitt is convinced that taking the road less traveled can help him realize his European Championship dreams after the Welsh international surprisingly traded Manchester United for a relegation fight in Croatia.
A season that started on loan with League One side Charlton will come to an end for NK Istra 1961 – a team the talented 20-year-old could be forgiven for not having heard of just a few weeks ago.
But Levitt’s latest move speaks volumes about the United academy graduate’s desire to start, having felt he needed more than Under-23 football after his frustrating time in the South East. London ended prematurely last month.
Remarkably, the five-cap midfielder has made as many appearances for Wales as he has for Charlton in the first half of the campaign and is hopeful that joining the bottom of the Croatian Premier League can help him. help win the Euro.
“It happened because I really needed to play first-team football,” Levitt told the PA News Agency from his apartment in picturesque Pula.
“Obviously the transfer window in some places was still open and I thought it would be a good place for me to come and play for the first team.
“I think I’m ready to play men’s football so it was important that I go out and secure first-team football for the second half of the season.
“This will hopefully put me in a good position for the Euros coming up this summer because at the start of the season I set my goal and wanted to go to the Euros.
“It would mean so much to all of us – my family, obviously myself, my friends, the people back home – that I was leaving. “
Levitt has joined players like Ajax, Sporting Lisbon and Alaves in signing for the little-known Istra, for whom he is in line to make his debut on Wednesday’s cup trip to HNK Sibenik.
The loan offers Levitt the chance to get meaningful minutes and try to be selected for Wales this summer, just five years after watching Chris Coleman’s side make their unforgettable journey to the semi-finals of Euro 2016.
“I watched every game from the group stage until they came out, even at school,” said Levitt, who was 15 at the time.
“I made sure to watch every game. Like the one against England that we watched in school because, well, that was England!
“I remember watching the Belgium match at my friend’s house. I think this is the one that stays in my mind the most. Robson-Kanu!
“There are still a few players in the squad who have played the Euro and sometimes they still talk about it because something is going to happen at camp. They will say ‘oh, remember when duh, duh, duh to the Euros’ .
“They are still talking about it and obviously everyone in Wales will never forget the Euro.”
Levitt lit up when he spoke about Euro 2016, just as he did when he looked back on his United debut against Astana in frozen distant Kazakhstan last season.
“I still have flashbacks to this day,” he said of the Europa League trip to Nur-Sultan. “The only thing that stood out for me is when you line up on the pitch.
“I look to my left, look to my right and saw Ethan Laird, Mason (Greenwood), Angel (Gomes), Di’Shon (Bernard), Jimmy [James Garner] – all the people who went through the academy who came with me.
“That’s what I think made it special because we all played the same game in Europe and it was all our dreams since we were seven, eight years old.
“Obviously I’ve been told before that people are crazy about United, but to witness it was breathtaking. Breathtaking. “
This November 2019 game remains Levitt’s only first-team appearance to date and has only fueled his drive to make an impact at the club he loves.
“Since the age of seven I have been at Manchester United so it is always the dream to play in the first team for the club you have supported, to go through the academy with,” he said . “All my life, that’s everything I ever wanted to be.
“I haven’t thought of any other team other than United since I was seven.
“I tasted it when I debuted, but want more. As soon as I got that taste against Astana, I wanted more, more, more.
“I really wanted to be pushed in this team. Even now I will do whatever I can to reach that level and become a Manchester United first team player.
But, for now, the focus is on keeping Istra in the Croatian Premier League and on his way to Wales squad for the European Championship.
“My goal was set at the start of the season to reach this Euro,” added Levitt.
“My agent and I talked about it, and with (the loan manager) Les Parry at Manchester United.
“It was my decision, really, to come and play abroad because I can play a different style of football here. It will teach me a lot for my career in the future.