Monday 22 January 2018

Late bloomer Forde loving life in fast lane as he enters crunch period

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

FOR David Forde, the time for talking is over.

The 33-year-old has given so many interviews about his ascension to the Irish No 1 spot that his unlikely rise has almost ceased to become a talking point in the build-up to the game.

In reality, his performance will be pivotal to the away side's prospects. Forde has never played Premier League football, but this is a match which carries similar levels of pressure.

Indeed, with an FA Cup semi-final with Millwall at Wembley coming up over the horizon, the Galwegian is entering the most exciting period of his career.

Feeling nervous then? "No, not at all," he asserts. "I'm on a high, we've had three clean sheets with Millwall coming into this game. I'm ready and prepared.

"That's what gives you the peace of mind as well, to know you're ready, you've prepared right and done everything right. I'm just looking forward to the challenge."

Being front and centre of the action is a marked difference from Euro 2012, although he has spoken about how he enjoyed that experience, taking the advice of Richard Dunne, who had prior experience of being a face on the bench in Japan and Korea.

fantastic

"Before we went away he said to me, 'Go and enjoy it because it's going to be a fantastic experience'. And that's what I did, I really enjoyed it bar the results.

"But to sit there and be 4-0 down against Spain and hearing the Irish fans singing 'The Fields of Athenry', that will live long in the memory."

When he was a teenager in Galway, Forde watched other kids go to England and wondered if he would ever get the chance.

"I had a lot of friends who went over who I used to play with. Ryan Casey, Darragh Sheridan, Tony Folan and Colin Hawkins, we all more or less came from the same area.

"I knew, ability-wise, it was there but probably what let me down was my height and size.

"I was always too small, or so people kept telling me. Then, all of a sudden, one morning I woke up and I was 6'4". I was about 19 or 20 then, it was before I went to Galway United.

"It was a bizarre one. I have always been a late developer and everything that has happened to me has always been late."

Forde has ploughed through some lonely days to reach this juncture, dealing with his fair share of rejection along the way.

His body is telling him that he can emulate the likes of Brad Friedel and his idol David James and play into his 40s. He may be the oldest member of this Irish travelling party, but this could be the start of something.

Irish Independent

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