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David Forde is unequivocal about the benefits offered by Vendanta, an ancient Hindu philosophy

David Forde is unequivocal about the benefits offered by Vendanta, an ancient Hindu philosophy

SPORTSFILE

David Forde is unequivocal about the benefits offered by Vendanta, an ancient Hindu philosophy

David Forde is staring into the abyss of relegation with Millwall, but he has his inner sights set high on the astral plane via regular meditation practice.

In between those levels of consciousness is the down to earth, everyday life of a professional footballer still striving for improvement and higher standards as the last line of defence with his club and country.

The 35-year-old Galway native is, no doubt, going to be verbally slaughtered by his Ireland team- mates now that he has revealed his interest in Vedanta.

It sounds high-falutin', but Forde is unequivocal about the benefits offered by this ancient Hindu philosophy.

The player spoke yesterday after Irish training in Malahide about the renewed self-confidence he has gained through dedicating himself to football after an early career hiatus.

"I do a lot of meditation and study of Vedanta - things like that. I'll let you look that up! It's just about learning a means to an end; what you can do to help yourself really," he says.

"I've had some help with that, so it's been vital for me over the last few years."

Former England and Liverpool goalkeeper David James knew Forde in the old days, and has spoken admiringly of his ability - he predicted last summer that he can still play in the Premier League.

James said: "David was one of my understudies at West Ham a decade or so ago. He was good. Coming back to Ireland (Forde played for Derry City from 2004-06) kind of straightened him out.

"I spoke to him briefly a couple of years ago, after he had come back to England, and he seemed to be a more mature man than the young cheeky lad he was 10 years ago."

To the casual observer, this might appear to be a fraught week for Forde, but the reality is more in line with James' assessment.

On Saturday Millwall blew a 2-0 lead to allow Brentford a share of the precious Championship points on offer.

On Monday, Shay Given came out strong and assertive in saying he wants the No 1 Irish jersey back for Sunday's crunch clash against Poland.

But yesterday, Forde was calm, confident, and dare I say, philosophical about all the challenges.

His former team-mate Neil Harris, appointed as Millwall's interim manager following the departure of Ian Holloway, has praised Forde for his level of performance.

And while Martin O'Neill has spoken of the tough choices he has to make regarding the goalkeeping slot, Forde has to hope that the Ireland manager will accept that possession is nine-tenths of the law and pick him for the Poland game.

"That's his (O'Neill's) prerogative. That's his decision. That's what he gets paid for. All I can do is what I do on the pitch," says Forde.

"I'm quite relaxed. I just want to see us win games and qualify."

The key for any player, particularly a goalkeeper, is confidence, and in that respect, the Galwegian is in a good place because he has worked hard on and off the pitch on self-development.

"It's certainly the case for me that in the last couple of years it's the best I've felt. It's the best shape and condition I've been in mentally and physically," he says.

Handling

"I suppose the mental aspect has been my strength over the last couple of years, in terms of handling these occasions.

"I still have big dreams. I want to qualify for the Euros with Ireland. And another big dream of mine is playing in the Premier League and, to a certain extent, playing in these international games is like playing in the Premier League."

Age need be no barrier in that respect. James reckoned he had some of his best years from the age of 36 onwards; on Saturday 38-year-old Kelvin Davies, who had not played a first team game for a year, came on for Southampton after Fraser Forster got injured and helped them to victory over Burnley.

Forde's club priority is to help Millwall stay out of League One, but this week is all about the international commitment against the Poles.

He has played twice against them, keeping a clean sheet in the friendlies in February 2013 in Dublin (2-0 win) and in Poznan in November 2013 (0-0).

"Hopefully that stands us in good stead and sets a trend," said Forde.

Meditate on that, Martin O'Neill!

Irish Independent