Sport Soccer

Monday 18 February 2019

Forde to make most of full debut

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

TRY telling David Forde that tonight's friendly with Italy doesn't matter. For the 31-year-old goalkeeper it promises to be a historic occasion.

He will start an Irish game for the first time and is set to become the oldest debutant since the Second World War in the process.

It's been a long road, with many twists and turns. An early career with Galway in the League of Ireland, a curious move to Barry Town in Wales which led to a stint with West Ham that didn't really work out, and a rebirth at Derry which led him back across the water.

Even then, he was stuck in neutral at Cardiff before a switch to Millwall three years ago that has set him off in the right direction. Now, the Galway man is a Championship regular and an Irish international. He likes the sound of that.

"There's been a lot of commitment, a lot of perseverance," he reflected after training last night. "I just kept going and going, but I finally got there in the end. I'm just going to go out now and enjoy myself and, hopefully, it goes well."

Despite his age, Forde knows that netminders the wrong side of 30 are by no means approaching the end. That's why, rather than viewing this as a novelty, he wants it to be the start of something.

"I'm still young as a goalkeeper. You see van der Sar and these people at 40 -- David James, too. So, I've a good 10 years left in me and a few more caps," he said.

"It's always been top of my list to play for my country. Getting into my first squad earlier this year was great, but there were a few injuries. Getting into a second squad was probably bigger. I got my foot in the door and now's a chance to kick on and show what I've got."

A brief cameo in the 5-0 win over Northern Ireland a fortnight ago was a special moment, but he barely got a touch of the ball. Facing Italy will be an entirely different kettle of fish.

No wonder his parents, Sheila and Patrick, are trying everything to make sure they get to the game.

Irish Independent

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