Ward: I'm ready to fly

Wolves man aims to be Euro star this summer

Aidan Fitzmaurice

BARRING a major injury, Stephen Ward is almost certain to play every minute of every game for Ireland at the Euro 2012 finals.

But that status as a member of the starting XI didn't afford the Wolves man any extra privileges when it came to yesterday's squad announcement for the tournament. As Giovanni Trapattoni faced the press and the cameras in Dublin, Ward was watching the live feed on his laptop, just like any fan.

The way yesterday went, a phone call from Trapattoni was one thing you didn't want to get if you were an Ireland player, as it was mainly the players who were 'only' on standby for the finals (like Seamus Coleman) or the ones who missed out altogether (such as Liam Lawrence) who were contacted by Trap in person.

Others, who have been carrying injuries (Keith Fahey, Darron Gibson, Stephen Hunt) were also called up by Trap yesterday morning, confirming that they were in the 23-man squad but with a rider that Trap wants them to report for duty three days before the bulk of the squad.

And the rest? They had to find out like the great unwashed.


"I was at home watching the internet feed like everyone else so it was a relief to see my name there and know for certain that I was in," Ward told the Evening Herald today, the former Bohemians man delighted to get the nod.

"But that was the first I knew of it. I think the FAI had sent a fax to the club earlier in the day, but as it was our day off I wasn't at the club and didn't get the word, if I had been in for training I'm sure I would have known, but as it happened I had to wait to see the press conference on the internet.

"My ma was over with me at the time and she was anxious to find out for certain, so we watched the press conference on the web and it was a relief to see my name there."

Despite making the left-back slot his own in the second half of the qualifying campaign, Ward was still not taking it for granted that he'd be included in the 23.

"I knew there was a very, very good chance but I didn't want to take anything for granted," he says.

"I still try to keep my feet on the ground, like a lot of the squad I probably expected to be in there, but until you see it there in black and white, it's not 100pc official.

"It's just a relief now that it's confirmed and the 23 lads who were picked can relax and enjoy it until we meet up later in this month.

"It's a great thing to be part of, the European Championships is such a big thing in your career and I'm just pleased to be involved," added Ward, happy to see three of his Wolves team-mates also earn inclusion.

"It's been a tough season for the club and we're still coming to terms with relegation, so for four players to get selected and go to the Euros is a great achievement and it might bring the fans and the people at the club a bit of joy to see the four of us there in Poland in the summer," added Ward, who expressed his sympathy for James McCarthy after the Wigan man asked not to be included for family reasons.


"It's very hard on James to miss out but all the players feel for him," says Ward. "The Euros is a massive tournament for us all but it's still only football, there are more important things in life and family is so important.

"All of the squad understand why James has asked to miss out and everyone in that squad will be backing James," added Ward, who now turns his attention to the last game of the league season, away to James McCarthy's Wigan, next weekend.