Jeff Hendrick happy to have come good on tricky night for Republic of Ireland
Published 08/09/2015 | 16:59
Jeff Hendrick admits he was having one of those nights before he set off on the run which led to the decisive goal in the Republic of Ireland's priceless 1-0 Euro 2016 qualifying victory over Georgia.
The Derby midfielder produced one of the few moments of genuine quality in Monday's 1-0 win at the Aviva Stadium when he cut in from the left, slipped the ball through one defender's legs and then danced past two others before picking out striker Jonathan Walters in front of goal.
His 69th-minute intervention proved crucial on the night, but it came after he had endured a difficult start to the game with Ireland struggling to find their rhythm.
Hendrick said: "I gave the ball away maybe three times before it, going sideways and backwards and not really being positive with the ball, so in my head, I was saying, 'Next time I get it, I'm just going to go at them and show a bit of positivity'.
"Thankfully it worked and Jonny got the goal. The two of them were closing me down, so obviously I had to try to go through them. It went through the legs and I was happy, and then the third player ran out and thankfully I went past him.
"I could have maybe fallen over, the way it was going before, but I got past and Jonny made a great run and just tapped it in, and obviously we are all delighted."
Hendrick's scintillating run rekindled memories for one of his team-mates as he looked on from the other end of the pitch.
Central defender John O'Shea produced a moment to remember during his early days at Manchester united when he famously "nutmegged" Real Madrid star Luis Figo during a Champions League quarter-final in 2003.
O'Shea said of Hendrick's effort: "He must have been watching videos of me from a few years ago!"
Hendrick won his 15th senior cap against the Georgians and is rapidly becoming a fixture in Martin O'Neill's midfield, which will be depleted for next month's showdown with Germany after both Glenn Whelan and James McClean picked up third bookings of the campaign.
The 23-year-old said: "Obviously I'm happy the manager has shown a bit of faith in me by playing me in the games. I have got to work hard not only for the team, but for myself. I don't want to let the players down when I'm out on the pitch.
"That's the way we all are - even the lads who aren't playing - we are all cheering each other on. That'd how tight the group is."