Sunday 21 January 2018

Coming up the hard way can give Ireland an edge -- Walters

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

JON WALTERS believes that the unglamorous background of many players in the Ireland squad could prove crucial when it comes to grinding out results in Poland next month.

The Stoke striker was delighted to receive the call from Giovanni Trapattoni earlier this week and feels he can force his way into the Italian's first team plans after a starring contribution in the play-off win in Estonia.

And he feels that Ireland's fighting spirit will be a massive attribute, believing it is borne from the fact that a large number of the group have worked so hard to reach this stage.

Walters spent time in League Two after kicking off his career as a youth player in the Premier League with Blackburn, and the likes of Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews also dropped down the divisions before scrapping their way back up.

The large ex-League of Ireland contingent have also defied the odds to reach this stage.

"Sometimes you look at lads coming through from academies and they have all the ability in the world and they could be world beaters if they only had the right sort of attitude," said Walters.

attitude

"I think ability counts, but attitude is most important. It's only the top players that have both. In our squad, there are a lot of lads who've been down there (lower divisions) and some of the lads came in from the League of Ireland at quite a late age. To have that attitude -- it's what a lot of managers look for."

Walters was part of a young Blackburn team that reached the FA Youth Cup final only to be thrashed by a special Arsenal side that included Jermaine Pennant, Jerome Thomas and David Bentley. But the majority of both groups fell by the wayside.

"Out of all those who were top players when they were younger, only a few got through to the Premier League," he added. "We are blessed to be where we are. With being down the leagues and seeing the other side of it -- friends who've had to go and get jobs -- you can't take anything for granted.

"With Ireland we've got a team of players who are willing to work for each other and die for the cause on the pitch. To have that in a team is quite rare. There is such a good bond and that can only count for something on the pitch."

Irish Independent

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