Forde focused on another survival mission
Published 16/04/2015 | 02:30
David Forde has always believed that the personality of Millwall Football Club is ideally suited to his character.
"Resilience in times of adversity, that's what this club is all about and it suits me," smiled the Galwegian on Tuesday night, buoyed by the sense of relief that accompanied victory in the 'must-win' game over Wigan at The Den.
Millwall are immersed in a fight with relegation that could have serious ramifications for the London club's entire workforce and, naturally enough, that's dominating the focus of the 35-year-old at the moment.
There's another battle in the back of his mind, though, and he admits that the disappointment of losing the Irish No 1 shirt to Shay Given last month has given him added motivation for the final four games of a turbulent campaign.
"The manager makes his decision," shrugged Forde when discussion turns to his Polish disappointment in a corridor outside the press lounge where he has just conducted post-match duties with the regulars.
"Myself and Shay are two very proud Irishmen, you know what I mean? I just want to play in the Euros and qualify for the Euros. The manager has made his decision and what can you do but, yeah, it's given me a bit of food for thought and it'll certainly make for an interesting few weeks ahead."
He did not have a heart to heart with Martin O'Neill about his decision. They had the briefest of chats about the change between the sticks.
"He just said he was going to go with Shay and I said 'Okay, I respect your decision, you're the manager'," he continues, "And we're all for the one cause, you know?"
Forde has endured tougher setbacks and knows there is little to be gained by dwelling on what ifs. This is why he refuses to entertain negative thoughts about what might happen Millwall in the next month.
A possible three-point deduction for Rotherham could make the task less daunting but, either way, Millwall are playing catch-up, with each of their remaining fixtures carrying seismic implications.
Forde's mindset prevents him from musing on what a drop to League One might mean for his own status.
"I haven't gone to League One yet so it doesn't come into the equation," he asserts, "I'm still playing in the Championship. Until you turn around to me in May and tell me otherwise . . . it's a different conversation then.
"But at the end of day, livelihoods are at stake. It's not only the players but it's everybody at the club. We realise that and we're hoping our efforts will be good enough. I suppose it keeps the season going, it keeps it exciting but you'd rather have the pressure of being up at the other end.
"Our season started with such promise and we have been unlucky in a lot of games but we'll just keep ploughing on.
"You can say you need however many points but at this stage of the season there's a lot of permutations, a lot of things that can happen and we have experience of that."
Saturday's trip to Cardiff will remind him how far he's come. His second stint in the UK started in the Welsh capital, where he struggled to get a proper run in the side to show what he could do. The fact that he will return there as captain of Millwall, leading the team out, is a source of pride.
He enjoys the leadership role. New Millwall boss Neil Harris has put his faith in youth in an attempt to turn things around and Irish U-21 striker Aiden O'Brien has benefited from that policy. A grin breaks out on Forde's face when the eager front man is mentioned.
"He's young and enthusiastic and he's trying to make a name for himself in the game," he says. "The first basic requirement in football is to run, and he does that. In a way, there's a lovely innocence in young players when they've got that workrate and appetite."
Forde remembers his frustration at West Ham over a decade ago, waiting for a break that never came. The knocks helped him to put the brighter days in perspective and to prioritise what's important.
"It's dog eat dog," he says, a point that was brought home by Tuesday's result inflicting misery on his Irish colleague James McClean, who is now doomed to the drop. "I wished James all the best after and he's gutted because we'd chatted about it a few weeks ago when we met up with Ireland.
"That's football, that's the nature of the game. When it comes down to it, you're looking after your family really. That's certainly the case with me. I just want to do the best for my wife and kids.
"But these tests only make you stronger and I've certainly grown. I'm a totally different person than I was 10-12 years ago at West Ham, when I was young and innocent. It's been a fantastic journey and I wouldn't change it for the world."