Thursday 29 September 2016

Petit: Ireland can be the Leicester City of Euro 2016

Published 16/03/2016 | 02:30

Emmanuel Petit (EMPICS Sport)
Emmanuel Petit (EMPICS Sport)

Emmanuel Petit has urged Ireland to take inspiration from Leicester City's heroics this season when they play at this summer's European Championships.

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The World Cup winner believes that Martin O'Neill's side can be a surprise package in France if they have the "great spirit" of old and play with the right level of "aggression".

Petit, who won the double with Arsenal in 1998, insists that Ireland have a good chance of getting out of their group if they start with a positive result against Sweden.

"Individually, this team has quality. Not a lot of qualities, but if they play the way they used to with a great spirit just like Leicester for example, look at them," Petit said.

"They play as a team and for me football is a team display. Most of the time you are well placed to see that but you always take one individual. With Barcelona it's Messi, but it's a team with team spirit. A lot of footballers are missing this point for me. Football is a team performance.

"I think it will be difficult because, obviously, they are in this group. It won't be easy but I think they have a chance to do a surprise because a tournament is different, you can forget what you've done with your club.

"The gap between the biggest countries is not that big any more so if Ireland play as a group and with fighting spirit and take their chance when it comes on the pitch, they can do something, yes.

"Surprises happen all the time in tournaments - World Cup, Europeans - you always have a surprise team."

Petit also admitted that he has serious concerns about the level of security in his home country for the upcoming tournament.

"Every morning I wake up with the army. When I leave home to bring my kids to school I say hello to the army guys all the time.

"We thought we were living with a perfect security. I'm very worried about security for the European tournament, especially for the fanzone. I'm very scared about the racism, it's coming back very fast.

"Our police are tired. They are living under such pressure all of the time and we need help from other countries. For me, this is the main priority."

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