Saturday 19 August 2017

Steven Reid: Football provides irreplaceable moments

'I don’t think there will be any fear factor playing this France team. They’ve had to rely on moments of magic in the group stages but they’ve got the job done.'. Photo by David Maher / Sportsfile
'I don’t think there will be any fear factor playing this France team. They’ve had to rely on moments of magic in the group stages but they’ve got the job done.'. Photo by David Maher / Sportsfile
Steven Reid

Steven Reid

I was reading a book called Retired on holidays recently. It's all about what footballers do when they retire and how they cope.

Football leaves a massive void in your life and nothing can ever really replace the highs that it brings. It was the same for me when I had to retire but fortunately I was able to remain in the game, in a coaching capacity.

When I watched Robbie Brady celebrating on Wednesday, I turned to my missus and said 'how can you ever get that feeling again? Where is Robbie going to get that again after football?'.

Robbie described it as an out-of-body experience but now as the euphoria has settled down a bit, it's all about picking yourself up and going again.

For me, that moment arrived when I scored a goal for Blackburn against Wigan in 2005. It was the best goal I ever scored. It was one of the biggest highs I had on a football pitch but it didn't make me think, 'how can I ever get that feeling again?', it was more of a case of just wanting to go out and feel it again and again.

It gave me so much confidence in myself and that's exactly what the win over Italy will do for these lads. They'll feel as if they can walk on water and will be itching to get the France game underway.

Happy

Some people may point to the fact that we only have a four-day turnaround compared to France who have had seven but I have been in these situations before and trust me, when confidence is this high, you would have been happy to have played the game yesterday.

The adrenalin will still be flowing and when it is, you feel as if you could play every day of the week.

I've played at Wembley for Millwall at the start of my career, played for Ireland at the World Cup, scored for Ireland - and with every one of those highs you want more and more.

Some players can't come to terms with the fact they are rare moments and they struggle because they're constantly wondering how they can replicate it.

The top players and the mentally strong ones will want that feeling again tomorrow and when I look at the characters in this Ireland squad, I have no doubt that they are capable of doing it.

It's all about creating history now. The squad's togetherness is something that really is special.

You could see in the celebrations on Wednesday, the whole country is brought together by these moments, but you don't get the sense that these lads are finished yet.

The interviews with Robbie Brady and James McClean afterwards showed that it means absolutely everything to the players. You just don't see that in most nations or in club football.

Robbie was in tears. He was struggling to hold it together but you need that kind of emotion. It's probably our main characteristic as a footballing nation. We pride ourselves on that special bond between the players and the supporters and throughout the tournament, we've seen that in spades.

I still see the same faces in the crowd who used to follow us during my time with Ireland. The lads on the drums, I still recognise them. They follow the team all over the world and they got another special night to remember.

It's amazing how much can change over the space of a few days. After the defeat to Belgium, everyone was thinking it was curtains for us.

People were questioning the manager, questioning the players and even their commitment but just four days later, you have one of the greatest nights in Irish footballing history. The emotional highs and lows of this sport are incredible.

I don't think there will be any fear factor playing this France team. They've had to rely on moments of magic in the group stages but they've got the job done.

They'll be looking at us and knowing that this is a really dangerous game for them but if we get at them early on, you'll start to see the crowd getting on their backs and that will certainly work in our favour.

This moment has been a long time coming. It's been amazing to see how much it has united the country, and the journey isn't finished just yet.

Irish Independent

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