Friday 20 April 2018

Budapest sub Stephen Hunt is fit, focussed and raring to go at Euro 2012

Stephen Hunt in action against Balazs Dzsudzsak of Hungary. Photo: Sportsfile
Stephen Hunt in action against Balazs Dzsudzsak of Hungary. Photo: Sportsfile
Stephen Hunt: insists he will not let the excitement get the better of him. Photo: Sportsfile

STEPHEN Hunt will treat his European Championship bow as he did his Barclays Premier League debut.

The 30-year-old Wolves winger made a good impression after coming off the bench in the Republic of Ireland's 0-0 draw with Hungary in Budapest last night, and will hope to play some part in Sunday's night's opening Group C fixture against Croatia in Poznan.

However, he insists he will not let the excitement get the better of him.

Hunt said: "I am focussed, I really am. I have waited a long time for this and I am going to make the most of it.

"I am not here to enjoy it. I am here to take an experience, to a certain degree, but we are here to do well.

"I remember playing my first game in the Premier League and being focussed, and I have the same feeling, so it's going to be great.

"It's about hiding the excitement, to a certain degree, and trying to stay calm and focussed for the next three games and do ourselves justice like we know we can.

"There are six days to go and if you are not in the zone now for the European Championship, then you will never be.

"I feel fit, I feel well and excited, but I will just try to keep my focus and look forward to the games.

"We are playing for the nation next week, and it means a lot to us as players and our supporters. We are looking forward to it."

Hunt knows that, barring a major change of heart, manager Giovanni Trapattoni will start with Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady in the wide midfield roles against the Croatians.

With newcomer James McClean also pushing for a place, Hunt knows competition for places is fierce.

In the circumstances, he was happy with his cameo at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium, where he replaced Duff with 63 minutes gone.

He said: "You have got to do what you can do on the pitch when you get on there.

"It was pretty positive last night, so I will take a little bit of confidence. I have trained for the last three weeks every day and it's been good for me."

Had it not been for Hunt's presence on his own goal-line six minutes from time, Ireland's 13-game unbeaten record might not have been extended to 14 with the winger hacking away Imre Szabics' shot as it threatened to fly into the bottom corner.

He said: "The manager talks about small details. I wasn't too sure whether to come off the line or stay on the line. The danger hadn't been cleared, so I stayed on the line.

"It could go against you - sometimes you could play strikers onside and they could tap it in. But it was the right decision, I suppose.

"I was a bit nervous when it came to me. I saw it all the way, to be honest with you, and it was just a matter of getting a good clearance and making sure it didn't bobble over my foot, thank God."

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