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Where are they now? The last Irish team to play a Euros play-off first-leg

Remember when Stephen Kelly was being preferred to Seamus Coleman at right back?

Estonia's Konstantin Vassiljev, left, fights for the ball against Keith Andrews.
Estonia's Konstantin Vassiljev, left, fights for the ball against Keith Andrews.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

DESPITE IT ONLY being four years ago, the Irish team has undergone plenty of change in terms of personnel since the last time they competed in a Euros play-off.

At best, four players (Robbie Keane, Stephen Ward, Aiden McGeady and Glenn Whelan) who started the emphatic 4-0 win over Estonia have a chance to feature against Bosnia, although this number would be slightly higher were it not for suspensions and injuries.

Here’s the full team that lined up that night and what’s become of them in the four years since…

Shay Given: Having retired from international football following the ensuing disastrous Euro 2012 campaign, he returned to the fold in August of 2014 and won back his place as Ireland’s number one goalkeeper. Had the Stoke stopper not picked up an injury against Germany last month, he would almost certainly be starting against Bosnia.

Stephen Kelly: Kelly didn’t fare too well thereafter, failing to feature at Euro 2012 despite making the squad. He gradually faded away from the Ireland set-up and is currently without a club, after leaving Reading at the end of last season.

Sean St Ledger: Another who has fallen out of favour at international level, now 30, the centre-back has spent time in America of late, first with Kaka’s Orlando City, and now, alongside Kevin Doyle at Colorado Rapids.

Richard Dunne: One of the main reasons why Ireland ultimately made it to the Euros, Dunne is now retired from international football, and has struggled for football in general due to a series of injury problems. The 36-year-old has been without a club since being released by QPR last summer.

Stephen Ward: Ward has struggled for form at club level in the four years since featuring in the play-off and going on to appear for Ireland at the Euros. However, while many may have felt his international career was over, the Burnley full-back was given a surprise start last month against Germany and performed admirably despite a lack of first-team football with his club.

Damien Duff: The ex-Chelsea and Newcastle winger brought a distinguished career at international level to an end after the Euros. He can now be seen plying his trade at Shamrock Rovers.

Glenn Whelan: Pretty much the only player here whose situation is more or less the same now as it was then — Whelan is still a regular presence in midfield for both Stoke and Ireland.

Keith Andrews: A stalwart of the Irish team at the time, Andrews got the all-important first goal in Ireland’s play-off triumph. Last August, the midfielder announced his retirement from football. He is now a first-team coach with Championship club MK Dons.

Aiden McGeady: McGeady arguably enjoyed his best spell in an Ireland jersey around this period — he contributed more assists than any other player in Ireland’s qualification campaign. He remains part of the Irish squad, but is no longer first choice for club or country.

Robbie Keane: Still showing no sign of retiring anytime soon, but while back then, Keane was the first name on the teamsheet, he is now a more peripheral member of the team.

Jon Walters: More or less an ever-present in the Irish side nowadays (at least, when he’s not suspended), back then, Walters was making a rare start under Trapattoni (he didn’t start a single match at the Euros), and contributed by scoring the game’s second goal.

Subs: Stephen Hunt, Keith Fahey, Simon Cox, Keiren Westwood, Andy Keogh, Paul McShane, Darren O’Dea.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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