Saturday 21 October 2017

We can be new Greece -- St Ledger

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

It's World Cup 2002 and Robbie Keane and Co are playing a rhapsody in green after the jarring discord of the Roy Keane-Mick McCarthy saga.

So, where is Sean St Ledger? Well, he's 17 years of age, just finished his first year as an apprentice at Peterborough United and he's off to Magaluf.

"My first lads' holiday," he recalls with a sheepish smile. "I didn't get to see any games. In fact I don't remember too much about that holiday."

Ten years later, St Ledger is an established Irish international and he'll make sure to remember every blessed moment of his 'Big Boys' holiday to the Euros this year.

The Irish team are in among the elite of the continent's footballing nations by right and St Ledger can't wait for the big kick-off in Poznan on Sunday, June 10 against Croatia.

For the Leicester City defender, playing for Ireland is a welcome relief from the stuttering club career he has endured over the last few years -- asked to sum up his season, he said: "Inconsistent".

Frustrated and worried about losing his place in the national side after Darren O'Dea came in and performed well, St Ledger asked to go on loan to get playing time under his belt.

"It was strange as I was literally on my way to Ipswich (on loan) to play against Birmingham and then I had the phone call saying that Leicester weren't going to make it happen.

"Then I played a week later and then went on a run of 16 games or so. I played more towards the end of the season so I feel refreshed from that. I always think I have performed to a reasonable level and I just want to settle."

And St Ledger believes Ireland can make a big impression in Poland despite having a tough group.

"We want to get through to the next stage. Our aim is to win the tournament -- we're not going there to accept second best," he said.

"If you aim for the top and fall short then so be it, but there's no point just hoping we might get through the group or we might not.

"Greece did it a few years ago, so why can't we?"

Irish Independent

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