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'I’m proud to say she was my daughter and I want to do her proud if she’s watching' - Arter

A tragic event in his personal life back in December has given the Ireland midfielder a sense of perspective.

Arter was speaking to the media earlier today.
Arter was speaking to the media earlier today.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

HARRY ARTER CAN look back on the past year with huge pride after what he has achieved on the pitch.

After helping Bournemouth win the Championship in 2015, the midfielder established himself as a Premier League player — making 22 league appearances despite a couple of injuries as the Cherries secured their top flight status with a 16th-place finish last season.

Arter also gained an admirer in Ireland boss Martin O’Neill and made his international debut for the Boys in Green in last summer’s 0-0 friendly draw with his birth country England at the Aviva Stadium.

Despite those highs, however, the 26-year-old’s world was turned upside down in December when he and his partner had to come to terms with the loss of their daughter Renee, who was stillborn.

It was understandably a heartbreaking experience for the couple but Arter found solace in his football. Just days after the tragedy, he lined out for Bournemouth at home to Manchester United and played a pivotal role in their 2-1 win.

The Bournemouth players all rallied around their fallen team-mate during the goal celebrations and Arter, struggling to control his emotions, was substituted just before full-time after receiving a booking from the referee.

“I tried to stay professional throughout and luckily for me I’m passionate about football so I’ve had something to focus my mind on,” said Arter today. 

What happened, unfortunately for some people it takes over their lives, but it has been something I’ve been able to focus on and I want to continue that.”

Having sat out the March friendlies with Swizterland and Slovakia due to an Achilles strain, Arter will finally get the chance to add to his one senior cap and possibly do enough to earn a place in Ireland’s Euro 2016 squad when they play the Netherlands this Friday.

O’Neill has repeatedly paid tribute to the player during his absence but he does have plenty of options in the midfield position, which is undoubtedly where most competition for places lies.

If Arter doesn’t make the final cut, he has learned that there are more important things in life than football.

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“Before that (the tragedy), this would have been the be all and end all for me,” he says. “If I didn’t get in the squad, I would probably have been devastated.

I certainly know what the word devastation means now. It’s a completely different meaning to me. If I did miss out it would be a disappointment, certainly not devastation.”

That said, Arter is eager to succeed as he believes Renee is looking down on him.

“I want to try and do her proud, make my family proud,” he explains. “It’s still pretty raw in the sense that it has been just over five months. I don’t mind talking about her and of course I want to do her proud.

“In my eyes and my family’s eyes she was with us for nine months and I’m proud to say she was my daughter and I want to try do her proud if she’s watching.”

AFC Bournemouth v Manchester United - Barclays Premier League - Vitality Stadium Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe with an emotional Arter during that win over Manchester United. Source: Paul Harding

The Ireland manager revealed today that he won’t pick his final squad until after the Belarus game at Turner’s Cross on Tuesday evening, which gives Arter just under a week to play himself into the plans for France.

“It’s a big week for the whole squad,” he adds. “There’s a group of lads that are almost certain to be in the squad then there’s a group, which everyone will have their opinions on, who aren’t.

“I’m quite inexperienced at this level and I’m really looking forward to the challenge. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am today and I’m looking forward to trying to get in the squad.”

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Ben Blake

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