Friday 24 November 2017

Robbie Brady moving on from summer of mixed emotions

Robbie Brady of Republic of Ireland during squad training. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Robbie Brady of Republic of Ireland during squad training. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The experience of taking Euro 2016 by storm was supposed to be life changing for Robbie Brady.

That theory probably still holds true in terms of his standing in Ireland and the memories from France that will last for the rest of his days. His emotional embrace with family after his late header in Lille provided one of the sporting pictures of the year.

But when the euphoria subsided, Brady returned to Norwich and waited for movement on his club future. He was at the centre of persistent transfer speculation, with Leicester and Everton reported to be at the head of the queue until his relegated employers made it clear they would be seeking £20m to part with the Dubliner.

Nothing happened and, just months after shining on the biggest stage, the 24-year-old found himself back in the Championship.

One doesn't have to read too far between the lines to note a trace of disappointment.

"I think the fee was quite high that Norwich were after," he says, adding that he was in regular contact with his agent.

"But nothing came of it in the end so that sort of stuff is out of my hands. You always want to know what's going on, it's good when things are going on that involve yourself. You want to know."


He spent deadline day in Dublin with Ireland, preparing for a friendly with Oman, where a set-piece goal offered a timely reminder of his ability. Yet there would be no late drama, much to the surprise of Martin O'Neill and other players.

From there, he had two options. Get frustrated by it, or get on with it and show that he was worthy of the speculation.

Brady's stunning goal for Norwich in their weekend win over Wolves suggested that his mind is now focused on promotion at the first attempt with a viable contender.

"It's a tough league to get out of, so the only target I have set is getting out of the league and getting into the Premier League as soon as possible," he stresses.

"There's no sulking or any badness. It is what it is. I'm enjoying it, so it's all good.

"I've seen people (sulk) in the past but you need to get on with it, it's your job. You can only focus on the job you have in hand. I'll try to do my best wherever I am. I want to do as well as I can.

"As soon as (the transfer window) closed, that was the end of it. You can't dwell on it. I had a little bit of a chat with Martin when I came in the last time, and it was fine, he thought I might have moved but it wasn't to be."

This week's Irish break offers a contrast from the grind of the Championship. Brady accepts that a six-point haul is necessary from the visit of Georgia and the trip to Moldova. When O'Neill took over, he held a meeting with the players where he drew a map with France in the middle and told the group that's where he wanted to be.

He didn't do the same for Russia ("there's not enough ink in his marker for that," laughs Brady) but the players know what has to be done.

One year on from a landmark success over Germany, breaking down Georgia is a different animal.

With Robbie Keane retired and this week the first gathering without his participation, the new Irish No 10 accepts that a new generation must take responsibility from a character who will be sorely missed for a multitude of reasons.

"It's near enough impossible to do what Robbie has done for this country but I'll do as best as I can," he says. "I feel like I've got a lot left in me and hope there is more to be spoken about than just the goal (against Italy).

"I want to go on and have a great career for Ireland, score as many goals and create chances and do things that we haven't done before. It's a massive aim but we're going in the right direction and I want to be a part of it."

He acknowledges that the opening draw in Serbia was not an enjoyable experience, yet the details were quickly forgotten when they boarded the plane home with a point in the bag.

"We came away with a good point to Serbia, which is what it's all about," he says. "Driving on and qualifying for the World Cup, that's all that matters."

Robbie Brady was speaking at Fingal County Council's official launch of the Transition Year Football Development Course at Corduff Community Centre. Contact for details.

Irish Independent

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