Wednesday 24 January 2018

Tardelli tells players to grab big chance

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

MARCO Tardelli has told the Ireland squad they could be preparing for the most important games of their lives as they attempt to book a trip to the Euro 2012 finals.

A World Cup winner, Tardelli knows exactly what kind of exposure playing on the big stage can give players.

He said: "It's the match of their life for many players. It's important to qualify because the players need a boost as well in terms of new contracts and visibility. The European Championships give the players good visibility and for some players, maybe it is the last chance to be seen around the world. It's important, and it is important also for the Irish people.

"If a player plays in the Championship and maybe he plays well at the European Championships, it's possible to sign a new contract or play in the Premier League or in another country.

"I don't know for other players, but for me, it was very important, and I think these players are very close to their country. I felt very emotional when I stood on the pitch during the national anthem. I don't know for other players, but I think it's the same thing."

Whatever else qualification would bring, it would end a 10-year wait for Ireland. There have been close calls, and no closer that two years ago when only William Gallas' controversial goal with the help of Thierry Henry's infamous handball saw France squeeze past the Irish and on to South Africa.

Asked if the events of that night still hurt, he said: "No, it's finished. We must focus on Estonia because it's very important."

For once, the Republic head into the play-offs as favourites, although Tardelli has warned it would be dangerous for the players to believe that.

He said: "We are not favourites. We have a 50pc chance like Estonia."

Irish Independent

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