Monday 5 December 2016

'If I'd missed he would have killed me': The thought of a furious Roy Keane helped McClean score crucial Ireland goal

Published 12/11/2016 | 19:41

Republic of Ireland's James McClean celebrates after the final whistle of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, Group D match at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 12, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Austria. Photo credit should read: John Walton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Republic of Ireland's James McClean celebrates after the final whistle of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, Group D match at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 12, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Austria. Photo credit should read: John Walton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission

James McClean revealed the fear of a verbal battering from Roy Keane inspired him to fire Ireland’s famous winning goal against Austria.

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McClean backed up his two goal display against Moldova last month with a thrilling winner to seal Ireland’s victory that fired them to the top of Group D, with a chilling warning from Keane at the forefront of his mind as he closed in on goal in Vienna.

Read more: Ireland secure famous away win after James McClean strike sinks Austria in Vienna

“If I had missed the target, Roy would have killed me,” said Ireland hero McClean.

“Roy hammers us in training to make sure we hit the target. He drums that in to us and as I was running through I thought hit the target, you will always have a chance.

“I hit it sweetly, flew through the keepers legs and I’m delighted. It was without a doubt my biggest goal for Ireland and I’m delighted. Personally and as a team, long may it continue.”

McClean went on to declare Ireland’s 1-0 win as pivotal to their hopes of topping Group D, as he suggested the triumph could be the springboard to automatic qualification to the 2018 World Cup finals.

“It’s huge. If you look at this group, there are no world class teams in it, let’s be honest, but there are four good teams in it and Georgia are not a bad side either,” he continued.

Read more: Here is how Ireland's heroes rated in their excellent win over Austria

“We are all going to pick points off each other, so to come away to Austria and get three points, it is a massive result.

“Hopefully this gives us the platform now to believe that we can win this group. We have got momentum, we are top of the group and we are delighted.”

McClean also feels his latest match winning display cements his spot in the Ireland team, after plenty of false starts to his international career.

“I have been around the squad four or five years and only now am I finally starting to nail down a place and I just have to keep playing well,” he added. “Hopefully I score a few more goals in the upcoming games and hopefully pull my weight.”

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