Wednesday 21 February 2018

Injured Coleman gave replacement Christie a pep talk ahead of Iceland task

Cyrus Christie. Photo: PA
Cyrus Christie. Photo: PA
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Cyrus Christie last night revealed the message of support he received from injured Republic of Ireland skipper Seamus Coleman ahead of last night's match at the Aviva Stadium.

Christie is as ambitious as any player but to gain the number two jersey following such grave misfortune for Coleman was not the way he wanted to claim his place in the Irish side. But Coleman made sure his understudy went into the game on a positive note.

"I went in and saw him at the hospital yesterday. He has his family around him, his daughter was there and he's in good spirits," said Christie. "They're keeping him happy and keeping him going. He's a great character and has a great mentality, he just wants to get on the road to recovery.

"He spoke to me as I left. He told me there was no better man to fill his boots and that was great to hear from him. That sums the kind of guy he is up. For me that's a great compliment and it gives me a great amount of confidence because I look up to him.

"He's our leader, he's a great player and is one of the best full-backs in Europe."

Football is fickle and fortunes can rise and fall with stunning rapidity, as is evident in the fate of Coleman and Birmingham City's Stephen Gleeson.

Gleeson, for so long an international exile, returns to his club with his determination to get back in the Blues team fuelled by his second-half appearance as a substitute against Iceland.

The talented midfielder has waited over nine years to get a third cap.

His first two came under Steve Staunton's reign during a 2007 American trip.

Martin O'Neill has included him in a number of squads but the Dubliner thought his chance had gone again when he was cut from the original 39-man panel for the Wales and Iceland matches.

A late call-up on Saturday opened up a glimmer of hope, and Gleeson was a proud and delighted player to get off the bench and into the action last night.

"I'm 28 years of age. I'm not a young kid any more. As I say, I'm not playing at my club at the moment. There are things I have to get right back there.

" If not, we'll look at it during the summer but I always want to play for my country.

"To get that call on Saturday morning was a surprise, but one that I took with both hands.

"Any time your country comes calling, you come," he said.

Former Dundalk players Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle were FAI Cup final losers at the Aviva in November. Last night they were back there as full-time professionals with Preston and making their international debuts together.

This is the stuff of dreams and both players hope it's the start of something big.

"It's a special night for myself. I'm incredibly proud to make my debut, it's a pity about the result. We probably deserved a draw but that's the way football goes.

"Of course, there is a few nerves, I just tried to play my normal game, tried to affect the game, so just done what I could, tried to do things. It's kind of the only thing I had in my head," said Horgan.

Boyle said: "Yeah it's nice, I suppose at this moment in time we probably come in a package.

"But yeah, the two of us are doing well at club level and to get an international cap on the same night, it's special. I just want to stay in the camp and go on from here."

Irish Independent

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