Friday 30 September 2016

Christie credits O'Neill for his role in career turn-around

Published 02/09/2016 | 02:30

Republic of Ireland’s Cyrus Christie Picture: Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland’s Cyrus Christie Picture: Sportsfile

Martin O'Neill's act of faith in selecting Cyrus Christie for the Euro 2016 qualifier away to Gibraltar a year ago was a crucial turning point in the career of the young Derby County defender.

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Christie, who made his Irish debut against the USA in November 2014, was on his way out of Derby on loan.

Manager Paul Clement, successor to the sacked Steve McClaren, reckoned Christie would not figure in his plans for the campaign.

A number of Championship clubs and a couple from abroad had shown interest in the Coventry-born player.

The future was uncertain - and then everything changed after Irish boss O'Neill selected Christie to play against Gibraltar on September 4, 2015.

The full-back scored the Republic's first goal en route to a 4-0 victory, and his fortunes changed dramatically.

"Derby were trying to get rid of me. There was a couple of clubs who would take me on loan.

"Paul Clement didn't see me in his plans. But I scored that goal, and I played every game for Derby after that.

"I got back and played every game, and got Young Player of the Year. It turned out to be a great season for me," said Christie.

Qualifier

Christie is now focused on the opening World Cup qualifier away to Serbia next Monday after winning his fifth cap against Oman in Robbie Keane's farewell game on Wednesday night.

Seamus Coleman was rested due to injury, and if he is ruled out, Christie is ready to slot in.

"We'll see how Seamus progresses over the week. I think he's fine. You want your best team available and Seamus is fantastic. Hopefully he is available on Monday," said Christie.

As Coleman's understudy, the Derby player had to sit out Euro 2016, and Christie accepts the situation.

"I know the competition I face with Seamus, but the manager did tell me, before the Italy game, 'Out of everyone, you do deserve the chance to play but I can't really put you in the team at the minute, but you have got the World Cup qualifiers to look forward to, and the World Cup as well if we can qualify.'

"He said, 'You're fantastic, you're a great player.' And that if he was a manager, he said he would buy me.

"To hear that from a great manager, it was a great for me," said Christie.

Meanwhile, Stephen Ward welcomed £10.5 million record signing Jeff Hendrick to Burnley and was pleased that his fellow Dubliner had opted for Turf Moor on transfer deadline day.

"It was nice to see Jeff get a move like that. He's a great addition to our squad," said Ward.

Irish Independent

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