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'I was thinking I was the best player in the world, and didn’t have to do the things that got me to where I was'

Chris Forrester discusses why he has returned to form, having been voted the League of Ireland’s Player of the Month for March and April.

Updated May 12th 2021, 12:18 PM

PICK YOUR EMBLEM of Chris Forrester’s run of form.

You can take the opening goal against Shamrock Rovers last weekend, the fabulous curled finish against Longford Town (replete with the most satisfying sound of this or perhaps any other season), or the fact he has been an ever-present for at Pat’s side that have emerged as Rovers’ closest title rivals.

sse-airtricity-swai-player-of-the-month-award-for-april Chris Forrester poses with his SSE Airtricity/SWI Player of the Month award for March and April. Source: SPORTSFILE

All of the above underpin his being recognised as the SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers Ireland Player of the Month for March and April. 

“I’m really happy with it”, said Forrester of his award win. “I think the last time I won one of these awards was 2015. Over the last two seasons, I wouldn’t have been near contention for it so the progress has been good. I’m really pleased with how far I have come.” 

Forrester left Pat’s for Peterborough in 2015, for whom he played more than a hundred times and initially shone, winning plaudits from Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer for an FA Cup performance against West Brom along with the club’s Players’ Player of the Year gong in his debut season. It was in that season he was called up to a provisional Ireland squad under Martin O’Neill, but didn’t make the cut for the final list. 

A new contract, the club captaincy and a host of transfer rumours followed, but ultimately Forrester’s time in England stalled, transfer listed and eventually moved to Aberdeen in 2018. That stint lasted just six months and with his contract terminated for personal reasons, Forrester returned to Pat’s in 2019. 

He didn’t instantly rekindle his form in Ireland, however, and it has taken until 2021 for Forrester to remind us all of his old self.

“I put it down to a lot of things. Timing, maturity, being that extra bit fitter this season and being happy in myself. But the team is playing really well this season, it’s not just me so you can put it down to a lot of things. But that is one of the main things: the team is pushing me not just me pushing the team. It’s working really well in that sense.

“I’m settled. I probably kind of struggled with the realisation that I came home for a while in my career. There was a lot of stuff going elsewhere going on with family and stuff and that was affecting everything. But I’m focused more on my football and when things start off well, it’s easy to progress that. I’m just happier in my life. I don’t really know how to explain it, it’s just a feeling I have.” 

New manager Stephen O’Donnell has helped draw the best from Forrester, having delivered a few frank words ahead of the new season. 

“We sat down, me and the gaffer and Alan [Matthews], and just talked about where I can improve and what I wanted from my career. He just basically talked about his belief that he had in me, so that really helped me. So in terms of a lightswitch moment, that was probably it. 

I gave myself a good base and what we built on in pre-season was through hard work and extra fitness stuff, just being an all-round better player by being able to get around the pitch and stuff. There was a lot of work, it was that conversation that sparked that work in me.I knew it already, I wasn’t really performing at Pat’s, I wasn’t doing anything worthwhile at Pat’s, but he believed in me and he could see the potential in me from day one since he came in. So I knew what he was saying to me but sometimes you just need to hear another person say it. When you have respect for the person that is saying it to you, it is easier to take. So it worked well for me that we had that conversation and I haven’t really looked back since.” 

The point at which Forrester does look back is when asked if he has any advice for his former Pat’s team-mate Jamie McGrath, who has scored 16 goals this season for St Mirren in Scotland and is being linked with moves elsewhere. 

“Sometimes, don’t believe the hype and continue to do what you’re doing. I got a bit caught up in that in my time. I was thinking I was the best player in the world and didn’t have to do the things that got me to where I was at. That can creep in, it’s probably natural and happens to most people.

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“But that crept in with me. I remember the time I got called into the provisional [international] squad and I thought I had made it, that was me set and I didn’t need to do anything of what I had been doing before to continue my progress. 

“You get so set in a way, ‘I’ve made it and can do whatever now’. It takes time to get readjusted to where you want to be at. You can get caught up in it all – thinking you’re too good – but as soon as you start thinking that, you’re gone. You have to start working hard as soon as you can, and get back on track.

“There were plenty of people giving me advice, but sometimes it falls on deaf ears. I wouldn’t say I was thinking way above myself but I got caught up in thinking, ‘I should be playing for this team’, or you hear about money moves and thinking, ‘I should be playing there.’

“It weighed on me a little bit, and probably set me back a little bit, if I’m being honest. There were plenty of people around with good advice, but you have to be willing to listen to it.” 

For now, Forrester is content happy he is. 

“I am happy here and settled. I came to the realisation that this is what it is, I am back home but it took me a while to readjust to being back – it took me a lot longer than I thought it would – but anything can happen in football and I wouldn’t rule out moving wherever, I am enjoying my football at Pat’s.” 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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