HE'S A national hero after his second-half goal gave Ireland a 1-0 win away to Armenia on Friday night, but Keith Fahey today admitted that he feared his ship had sailed when it comes to international football.
Fahey is probably by now fed up with hearing and reading all about how he has taken his second chance -- getting back into professional football with St Pats after a spell in England saw him play in the non-league scene in Dublin, then getting another chance in England with his move to Birmingham City two years ago.
Easy for the Dubliner to yawn as the stories are regurgitated, particularly the depiction of his time with St Pats which suggests that he was effectively playing for an Oirish pub side (even though Fahey was the best player on the park when Pats played Hertha Berlin in the UEFA Cup) and that same Pats side looked quite handy against Swedish, German and (later on) Russian opposition in Europe.
After sub appearances for Ireland against Paraguay and Algeria last May, Fahey then swapped walk-on parts in low-key friendly games for a central role at home to Argentina last month -- and he thought he'd fluffed his lines.
"I was delighted to be named in this squad after the Argentina match, I wasn't sure if I would get back in the squad again, I wasn't sure," Fahey told the Herald.
"Looking back now, Argentina was a tough game and I was probably a bit hard on myself.
"Everyone was telling me I had done well but I honestly wasn't so sure. I feel I did put in a shift but there's another side to the game too and I probably didn't do enough in the Argentina game, in my book anyway.
"Generally I would be very hard on myself and be self-critical, maybe too hard on myself.
"I thought I had missed my chance with Ireland because of how I had done in the Argentina game so it was a nice surprise to get into the squad for the Armenia and Andorra matches, pleasantly surprised I'd say.
"So it's great to be involved, even if it's as a sub. You look at the squad from the other night in Armenia, lads like Joe Murphy and Kevin Foley have been in the squad for a lot longer than me and they didn't even get on the bench so I have to be grateful for that, to be on the bench and then getting a run," added Fahey, who certainly did what his manager asked when he was put on -- Trapattoni's instruction was to "get involved" -- by scoring the goal, his first strike in over a year.
"It was my first goal since we got promoted with Birmingham so it was a big deal for me, and it was a real confidence boost for me. I was just delighted to be involved in the game and make my competitive debut, so to score was something else.
"It means a lot to me and I got a good reaction from the people around me, especially the people back at the club. The gaffer (Alex McLeish) texted me and so did Joe Hart, who was on loan at Birmingham last season, and that was good of Joe as he was a bit busy himself with the England game.
"It wasn't an easy game for us against Armenia on Friday, the conditions were tough. With the heat and humidity I found it hard to breathe when I was coming on, I think the air conditioning in the room had me in bits, but I feel fine now.
"I felt fine after the game. I got a good sleep in when we got home on Saturday morning, but I'd only played for a bit of the game and the other lads were more involved than I was."
Now we move on to Andorra, easily the most winnable game Ireland had had since the 5-0 win over San Marino four years ago, but like his team-mates, Fahey is urging caution.
"Andorra won't be easy, I'd say they will get everyone behind the ball and try to shut us out, but we will be prepared as we know we'll have to break them down," he says.
"Games like this are always hard. When I played against non-league teams at Pats, the opposition were always solid, they just stay behind the ball, and once you get a goal against them that's when you can open them up, so hopefully we can get an early goal and get off to a good start.
"I don't know if I'll be in the team to start tomorrow. I know I have done my cause no harm by scoring the winning goal but Aiden McGeady had a good game in my view so we'll see what team the manager picks.
"It gives me great confidence. It's good to think that I am in his (Trapattoni's) thoughts anyway. There are other players he could have put on in front of me, so when I got the shout, I was delighted to get on.
"I can play anywhere. I don't know if the manager thinks I can play anywhere, I am not too sure -- you would have to ask him.
"But I can play anywhere across the middle, so it's a good thing to have. I know there are a couple of players out, but since I have come in, I have done well in training, so have as good a chance as anyone of playing. I would like to think so, anyway."