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Forde's journey a 'scary' story


David Forde. Photo: Sportsfile

David Forde. Photo: Sportsfile

David Forde. Photo: Sportsfile

DOWN the road, after he has put away the goalkeeping gloves and has time for other matters, David Forde will sit down and assess it all, the journey he's made in a short space of time.

In December 2006, he wore the Derry City shirt in the old Lansdowne Road as the Brandywell side overcame St Patrick's Athletic in the FAI Cup final, and tomorrow night at the rebuilt, revamped stadium on the same patch of land the 33-year-old will win his ninth senior cap as Ireland try to avoid any slip-ups at home to the Faroe Islands.

"It's funny when you're playing and involved, it all rolls into one. You're probably on the outside and can see the journey, can see the path, even from my League of Ireland days, it's hard to reflect on it now when I'm playing," says Forde, the Millwall man in reflective mood ahead of the World Cup game.

"When I stop playing in another few years, I can sit down over a pint in Galway and go 'Jesus, that was pretty scary.' It has been a bit of a rollercoaster but at the moment I'm enjoying it."

When Ireland last played at home to the Faroes, in 2004, the No.1 keeper was Shay Given, Paddy Kenny was the back-up and David Forde was in the First Division of the League of Ireland, with Galway United.

Older and wiser now, Forde is ready to deal with the test against the Faroes tomorrow, a different examination of his skill than the one he faced in Wembley last week when he put in a man-of-the-match display to earn Ireland a 1-1 draw.

"When I look back to when I was younger and my West Ham days, at the time I feel I just wasn't ready. It's experience, I've played in a lot of big games, played a lot of football and that certainly helps," he says, insisting that this is now his time.

"Your mentality seems to change as well. That strength of mind, that character and belief that you've worked so hard to get to where you are."

Forde had been to Wembley as a player but last week's draw was something different.

"It was a special night. Wembley's a special place and I thoroughly enjoyed it," he says.



"I was absolutely delighted. I've said all along that it was a good game for us, an important build-up because the main game for us is the World Cup qualifier tomorrow.

"The draw has given us a lot of confidence. You see even on Sunday we got a big result.

"That was the main thing. I really enjoyed it and it was a fantastic occasion, it's a game that should be played more often.

"Outside of big European Championship and World Cup games, it's probably next in line. It's like a World Cup quarter-final or something for Ireland."

Forde pulled off a string of saves to deny England late in the game but it's hard to imagine the Faroes coming up with wave after wave of attack tomorrow night – making the game a poser of a different type for a keeper.

Keiren Westwood remarked after Sunday's 4-0 win over Georgia that it was the quietest game of his career, in which he had nothing to do, and Forde knows that concentration is key. "We've all played in those games at whatever level, they are difficult games but look, you're playing for your country so tomorrow I'm itching to play," he says.

"It comes down to a concentration thing. First of all, you have to give the Faroes the respect they deserve as well.

"We found it very difficult out there on the night in the away game. We know they're going to come here, sit behind the ball and hope to hit us on the counter-attack or from a set-play.

"Regarding my own scenario, it's a matter of concentration and keeping that level up for 95 minutes. It's going to be a good challenge.

"Games are games, you don't how it's going to turn out, you just don't know what is going to happen.

"You look at the France scenario, and (Thierry) Henry's handball. It's the same with Faroes, you just don't know what is going to happen.

"You do prefer to be in a game, it's a whole lot easier for a goalkeeper when you're working, it just comes naturally. It's a good challenge, they're both a good challenge in different ways.

"It's just pleasing to come off a game with a clean sheet, whatever game you play, clean sheets are massive for confidence as well."