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Republic of Ireland's Aiden McGeady during a pitchside press conference ahead of their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Faroe Islands on Friday. Picture: David Maher/Sportsfile.

Republic of Ireland's Aiden McGeady during a pitchside press conference ahead of their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Faroe Islands on Friday. Picture: David Maher/Sportsfile.

Republic of Ireland's Aiden McGeady during a pitchside press conference ahead of their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Faroe Islands on Friday. Picture: David Maher/Sportsfile.

STRAIGHT and honest to a fault and gifted with an independent mind which allows him to offer opinions and thoughts outside the norm, Aiden McGeady is a rare breed in professional football.

This time last year, it was McGeady who stood up to a microphone and, by default, Giovanni Trapattoni when he told the media in Budapest that Ireland had done enough training in Montecatini and could do with a break.

Up until that point, nobody had strayed from the happy, clappy Euro 2012 script.

But McGeady, never one to call a spade a shovel, had his say and then disappeared back into the squad.

Yesterday, he spoke just as candidly about his international career and it was refreshing to hear him speak so honestly and apply the kind of critical analysis which echoes what many have said and written about him over the years.

He is a gifted footballer and still has pace to burn but too often, his performances for Ireland fall below his potential. Consistency has never been a strong point and he admits that Ireland fans have not seen the best of him.

"No, I don't think so. You know, for just some reason or another I probably haven't hit my best form for a continued period of time for Ireland.

"I don't know why, I just... I don't think it reflects the way I play at club level," he said, his eyes drifting towards the sky while he makes a genuine effort to explain something which, by its nature, is indefinable.

 

CONSISTENT

"Obviously I've had some good games, but not consistent over (time). The Euros was a good campaign for me, over the 10-to-12 games – I mean the qualifying campaign. But it still probably wasn't the way I feel I can play.

"I just don't know how long we're going to wait until it happens."

What does he need to improve?

"I'd probably say my shooting – scoring. At club level I'm okay but for Ireland I just seem to have a mental block or something, anytime I bloody get near the goal," he said with a rueful grin.

"Crossing and stuff is okay. People probably talk about end product at times but I know myself more than anyone I've got to create more chances.

"If I hit one over the bar or behind the goals it's end product that gets mentioned, instead of what I have done well. But that's just the way it is."

It's a rare thing to hear such an honest self-evaluation but McGeady is not one for small talk and when he does stand in front of the press, he meets journalists with a faintly quizzical gaze and a readiness to engage.

In his early days, he was rarely less than prickly and defensive, a posture adopted to cope with his history in Glasgow and an unenviable position as one of the most abused footballers in the world.

He has steel in his make up and is quite happy to trade sharp words if he feels he is being misrepresented. But on this occasion, he spoke aloud some thoughts he had clearly been mulling over for some time.

Friday night against the Faroe Islands will provide him with his 60th cap, an impressive total and gathered in a relatively short space of time. His priority now is to add consistency and substance to the next 40, if injury spares him.

McGeady believes that his time in Moscow will help with that goal. He is open to another year in Russia but listening to him talk gives the impression that a few seasons in the Premier League are just what the doctor ordered.

Unwilling to alienate his employers at Spartak, he walked a careful path through questions about his future plans which cropped up when he spoke about an injury-troubled season and controversial six-game ban he received in early May.

McGeady was just back after an injury break and desperately wanted to make an impact in the final games of the season. He did just that with a stunning goal against the lavishly monikered Mordovia Saransk but followed that with a red card and a boot aimed at a microphone stand.

"Yeah, I was a bit disappointed. Obviously, after the game I knew straightaway that what I done was wrong. But six games was a bit much.

"The club felt the same so we appealed it. I was just glad to play the last game ... " he said, his voice tailing off just before he gave his words even more significance.

"I had some good form and that was probably the worst part of it," he said, just managing to swerve around the thought that it was his last game for Spartak.

"I don't know. Whenever I get asked, I just say that things are going well, I'm happy there. It's up to them if they get an offer, whether they accept it. It'll be up to them in the end, not to me," said McGeady, who came within an ace of signing for Wigan last January.

"It was close, I think, but ultimately I wasn't fit. That was the main thing. I wasn't going to go anywhere if I wasn't fit."

 

EXTENSION

McGeady has discussed an extension but is not prepared to tie himself to another long-term deal in Russia.

"There's been a few thing said. I don't want to say that I don't want to extend it but three years is a long time, and four years is a long time. I don't want to spend another four or five years there.

"Nothing to do with being there but, as I've said before, I'd like to try somewhere else. Maybe England.

"It's not the easiest place to live. I find it okay but your family and stuff, it can be difficult for them. That's obviously a big factor as well.

"It's been an eye-opening experience. It's been enjoyable, and it's been good for me.

"I can't say I have any regrets about it. I can't say anything bad about the Russian league, the team or the way I've been treated. It's been great."

How about New York, Aiden? Fancy a weekend in the Big Apple before your wedding late next week?

"I don't think I am going, no, because I'm due back in Moscow on the 19th or sooner and obviously the 14th (his wedding), and the 13th the day before... it's pretty tight," he said, laughing.

"I spoke to the manager and he seemed okay about it, but I don't know if he totally gave the okay."

The suspicion is that it wouldn't matter.

Aiden's getting married and that, as they say, is that.


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