'Fair play to him, that's a different level' - Jon Walters discusses fan's bum tattoo tribute
Jonathan Walters has recalled fond memories of family holidays to Ireland and witnessing first hand the fever that swept the nation during the heady Jack Charlton era.
Walters reached national icon status earlier this month when his brace against Bosnia & Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium during the second leg Euro 2016 playoff sealed Ireland’s place in France next summer, but once upon a time he was just another wide-eyed supporter looking in.
When his late Irish mother was alive, the Walters clan holidayed here with great regularity and, speaking to the Irish Independent’s Daniel McDonnell, the Stoke striker relayed his experiences as the Boys in Green waded into unchartered territory.
"What I remember clearly is going into Dundalk to a theatre," says Walters. "It was a Christmas panto. Ireland had qualified for the World Cup and everyone was singing, 'We're all part of Jackie's Army'. I'll never forget that.”
He also spoke of the importance of the current Irish crop’s achievements, as well as giving his thoughts on the particularly zealous fan who commemorated Walters’ recent exploits by getting his name tattooed on a rather intimate body part.
"You can see what it means to people. I was thinking that when the President came in. It's not just for the players and the families but the economy as well. And it's worth more to people with the memories it can make, like the ones I have from Dundalk. For the younger generation, we're on the biggest stage and hopefully we'll do well this time."
"Fair play to him," laughs the unlikely source for such a tribute. "That is a different level."
Read the full exclusive interview with Walters here