Dream come true

St Ledger can't wait to pit his wits against Europe's best as Trap prepares to name squad

Cormac Byrne

HE'S already concentrating on forming a plan to counteract Fernando Torres and Nikica Jelavic, but Sean St Ledger spares a thought for the Trap no-shows now cast out on the international wilderness.

When Giovanni Trapattoni names his 23-man squad for the European Championships on Monday, many will lose out, but the 27-year-old Leicester City defender believes a lot of those left behind shot themselves in the foot just over a year ago.

James McCarthy, Marc Wilson, Ciaran Clark, Anthony Stokes and Caleb Folan infuriated the Italian last June with their no-shows and now none of them will be going to the Euros.

"Other people who didn't turn up at the summer, they wouldn't have thought that we'd be going to the European Championships and they'd be missing out," St Ledger said.

"For the sake of turning up for a couple of weeks you could be going to a European Championships. I think that couple of weeks of sacrifice is worth it when you think of what is about to happen this summer.

"This career doesn't last forever and I want to maximise my chances.

"They probably wouldn't have thought of that at the time, but each to their own. Obviously people think differently.

"I think we're lucky in the profession we're in. Sometimes you need a break but you get that break during the summer."

For St Ledger, the chance to come up against the best finishers in the business is whetting his appetite.

"I can't wait to hopefully get in the squad and pit my wits against the best strikers in Europe," he added.

"When you're a kid you dream about playing against the best in the world.

"Torres is hitting form, I know that much. A couple of weeks ago, we played against Chelsea in the FA Cup and he wasn't bad.

"Everyone's pleased for him, he's worked hard. People have wrote him off too early. He is showing the form that Chelsea paid the money for.

"You've got Jelavic at Everton. He's scoring some goals at the moment and we are looking at him to see what he's like.

"He's come to the Premier League and done very well.

"They're the kind of players you want to come up against."

The Birmingham-born player was delighted to see his likely defensive partner in Poland, Richard Dunne, come through 90 minutes for Aston Villa last weekend and he can't wait to restart his apprenticeship under the experienced defender.

"He's an integral part of what we're about. He could play with the injury, he's that type of person. Everyone saw what he did in Russia. He was incredible. It's great for him to be back," he added.

"To play alongside him has been a great learning curve and I've learned a lot from him. You see him playing, he's in a different gear. He's a leader in the way he performs, he puts his body on the line. He's unbelievable. I haven't got Premier League experience and he has been great for me."


Since giving St Ledger his chance in a friendly against Nigeria at Craven Cottage in 2009, Trap and his regular centre-half have not looked back and the defender is looking forward to repaying the Italian's trust in him.

"He's had a lot of faith - a lot of faith in me. I didn't get called up for a very long time. Fortunately, I played in a friendly and I've gone on from there.

"A lot has been down to him because when I was at Middlesborough and Preston I wasn't playing the greatest and he could have left me out.

"When you have a manager who has faith in you, it puts confidence in you. Sometimes you believe in yourself a bit more."

St Ledger came within hours of joining up with Paul Jewell in January after a poor start to life under Sven-Goran Eriksson, but was recalled by Leicester just as he was about to join Ipswich in their team hotel ahead of a visit to Birmingham. And he is hoping to cement his future with the Foxes under Eriksson's replacement Nigel Pearson.

"I like playing for Leicester. I fully enjoy it there. It's a great football club, they've got great people working there and I think it's down to me to prove to the manager that I'm worthy of a starting place," he said.

"Everything's fine between me and him. I like playing under him, he's a really good manager."

Sean St Ledger was speaking at Carton House in Maynooth, Co Kildare.