BRIAN Kerr claims the FAI are being two faced in their dealings with players from northern Ireland.
The ex-Ireland boss, whose parents were born in Belfast, says the Association needs to bring an end to their ‘sneaky’ attempts to ‘rob’ players from the north.
Kerr says the FAI are happy to point out the good work that’s done by football as a uniting force on the island, but he’s concerned by the ‘active’ attempts by the Association to sign up players born up north.
“It just seems to me that in an era where we seem to be making an effort to get over all the political troubles of the past and let’s be honest about it, the violence and the bigotry of the past, we seem to be making a big effort on that and yet on the other side we seem to be still having a little dip in,” he argued.
“Football is a very important part of life in northern Ireland for a big part of the population. One part of the population seems to support the republic in a big way.
“The other part seems to support northern Ireland.
“Should we be continuing on and adding to that division, I don’t know.
“We’ve had the Setanta Cup in recent years and we’re talking about shared tournaments, youth developing grounds and lots of co-operation on different areas.
“But you can’t be at the same time jumping over your neighbours back wall and robbing the apples. “It’s a little bit like that, it’s a little bit sneaky.
“We’ve been nice on the outside but sneaky on the other side.
“It’s not the biggest thing in the world but you can’t talk about having nice, friendly relations with our neighbours in the north in relation to lots of things, cooperation on various cross-border stuff and, at the same time, be sneaking into the garden and robbing.”
Kerr says he had a strict policy in place to deal with the situation when he was the senior international manager, and wants the Association to replicate that in the current era.
“The policy has to be decided by the Association,” he argued.
“This is the rule I used and I thought it was a good rule: If there was someone who wanted to play for us who was eligible for Northern Ireland and played for Northern Ireland, they had to contact me by letter or through their parents to let me know, that was the first thing,” he explained.
“The next one was I had to check them out and use my experience and knowledge to say ‘are they better than what we have at the moment? Are they going to be better than what we’ll have in the future?’
“Then there was an obligation on me to explain to the parents and to the player that the likelihood of him playing for Ireland at senior level was much less than it was playing for Northern Ireland at senior level, even if he was good enough for us at under-17, under-19 and possibly at under-21.
“If, with that honest assessment and knowledge, they decided they want to play for us, then I was prepared to go with it. Since then, it’s changed.
“We seem to be more aggressive in our attitude at times to get the players. I don’t know whether we’re being honest in terms of explaining to the players they may never play for the Republic.
“If we’re active, and that’s the problem for me, if we’re active in identifying players in the younger age groups when they’re vulnerable that’s where I have a little bit of a problem with it in my head.
“Several players who have played for us at underage level would be in the Northern Ireland team by now are not in our national team. Maybe they’re quite happy with that. Maybe they’re delighted with that. That’s fair enough.”
Northern-born Marc Wilson, Darron Gibson and James McClean have won caps for Ireland in the past few months, having previously represented the north at underage level.
The trio look set to be regular members of the squad for years to come, but Kerr is still not convinced Ireland ‘need’ to be pursuing players like those – even if, in these cases, the players themselves have said they always dreamed of playing in Lansdowne Road.
“It’s not like we’re pulling out fellas who would be playing for Brazil if we didn’t get them or that they have the pool of players,” Kerr argued.
“Just looking on from the outside we seem to be busy and there seems to be controversy about a few players.
“I don’t know if we need to do it.
“Have we got anyone other than Darron Gibson yet, Marc Wilson, I suppose. I was involved with Gibson at that time. I adopted the policy, I was probably setting my own agenda without anyone telling me.”
Gibson’s move from northern underage player, to an Ireland player was discussed in the northern assembly, with James McClean’s move also garnering significant attention both politically and in the northern media.
To some, the players are turning their back on their country, while others believe they’re inadvertently creating a northern Ireland team that represents just one part of the community.
Kerr says he can’t disagree with the latter claim.
He said: “Does it copper-fasten the [north’s] team being made up of & supported by one community?
“It does yeah, that’s probably the reality of it.”
DAVID Kearney says the Haka won’t fire up any Ireland player today – because they’ve 108 other reasons to beat New Zealand.
Kearney was a member of the Ireland team that went eyeball to eyeball with the Haka four years ago in the u-20 World Cup, but he expects no such fireworks this time around, with Ireland fully focused on the job in hand – getting a first victory over the All Blacks in 108 years of trying.
The first of 27 meetings between the two sides came at Lansdowne Road on November 25, 1905, and while today is just Kearney’s first start for his country, he feels the weight of history on his shoulders.
“When you’re growing up you’re watching the Haka in awe of it, but I’ve faced something similar when we played them in the u-20 World Cup, so I’ve a fair idea of what’s to come,” he said ahead of only his second cap.
“It’s a special part of playing the All Blacks as, but you try not to get too into it, it’s a good time to focus on what you need to do and go through all the possible scenarios in your own head, a bit of visualisation in that period too.
“But the main thing that has been mentioned to us is this week is that it’s 108 years without beating them.
“That’s one of the things Joe said to us, ‘you don’t need any ammunition. I don’t need to get you fired up for this game, you should be fired up easily.’
“That’s the only fuel you need to get you going.
“I don’t think anyone has to sit down and say to themselves, ‘this could be the last time I play against the All Blacks’.
“There’s so much history. It’s been so long without beating them.”
Kearney can’t take the blame for picking up just one draw, in 1973, in 27 attempts against the current World Champions.
It’s 18 months since the 24-year-old’s first taste of the international game, when he stood on the pitch for the national anthem against Wales, but never got any game time, and he belatedly won his first cap two weeks ago, scoring two tries as a replacement against Samoa.
Being given your first start against the All Blacks is daunting for many, but Kearney intends to deal with today’s game as if it was just another match.
“I’m very excited, but there’s a little bit of nerves there too,” he admitted.
“Talking to Rob the other night about it, I have to try look forward to this game as if it’s any other game.
“I got 20 minutes against Samoa, and that gave me a bit of a feel for it.
“It’s a great feeling for me to get my first start for Ireland, I’m happy with how things have gone this season so far, so I’m pretty confident at the moment, I just need to build on the games I’ve had so far.
“As a player, you want to play against the best players in the world, and there’s no better way to do it than playing against the All Blacks.
“They’re unbeaten this season, they’ve had a phenomenal record, and the strength in depth they have across the squad is unbelievable.”
David’s brother Rob was a member of the Ireland side hammered 60-0 in 2012, a match that proved just how merciless the Kiwis can be.
“We know we have it in us as a team to beat them, but we really have to be at our best, we can’t afford any errors whatsoever,” Kearney said.
“At this level against the best, when you make mistakes that’s when they capitalise, they’re a really ruthless team, they’re extremely clinical, any lapses in concentration you make they capitalise on that.”
FORMER Manchester United no.2 Mike Phelan says he wants to be a League of Ireland no.1.
Phelan spent five years at Old Trafford as Alex Ferguson’s assistant, but has been out of work since the great Scot hung up his hairdryer at the end of last season.
Now, the 51-year-old is keen to try his hand at management, and admits he’d be open to a phone call from Ireland.
“I would never disrespect anybody who phoned me up or got in contact,” he said.
“I don’t work like that. It would depend what the package is as far as where the club is at, what ambitions they’ve got, who’s in charge of it all and what work can you do there.
“If it’s a good fit then why not?
“There’s got to be a point to it and a reason to believe in it. If I can find that, I might be pushing the boat out, but if you can find that togetherness you’ve got half a chance anywhere you go.”
JON Walters says the ‘Demanding’ Roy Keane will keep Ireland’s players on the straight and narrow.
The Stoke City hitman once said that ‘it wouldn’t surprise me if some players are terrified of him,’ after he had left Ipswich for Stoke, when Keane was boss.
But, now they’re both on the same team, the 30-year-old forward is confident the Cork man’s attitude will bring out the best in his players – and keep the others in check.
“It’s a great trait to have, if you aren’t demanding the lads will get away with all sorts,” Walters admitted.
“He didn’t get to the top without being demanding and the top, top players are the ones who demand the best from themselves.
“You have to have the ability but you don’t see a top player without having that attitude.
“With him, it can only rub off on everyone. It’s great.”
Walters admitted his personal past with Keane is no longer an issue, having been cleared up within moments of meeting on Ireland duty.
“Yeah, I never really expected anything else to be honest. I got on really well with Roy,” said Walters.
“At Ipswich I was (Roy’s) captain. I wanted to leave and he wanted me to stay so obviously it wasn’t going to be all hugs and cuddles.
“There was a difference of opinion. We moved on straight away, it was fine.”
Paul Green and James McCarthy have already spoken of their delight at working with and learning from a world class midfielder like Keane.
And Walters hopes the lessons those and other players will pick up, can help fire the team to future glory.
“Roy has been taking a few sessions, the same as at Ipswich and it has been really good.
“He has been giving advice to players, taking them aside. Players can only learn from him as he was a top player.
“The likes of James McCarthy and people like that. Everyone can benefit from his wealth of knowledge. Both the managers have a wealth of knowledge and that can only help us all, and Seamus (McDonagh) can help the goalies.”
There’s been a marked change to the atmosphere in the Ireland camp since O’Neill and Keane arrived, with more laughter on show than the Trapattoni era.
And, while Walters insists last week’s team cinema trip was hardly something new, he admits the group have been in high spirits since the pair’s arrival.
“Socialising as a group is nothing we haven’t done before, although in the summer maybe it was a little stricter,” he admitted.
“But when the lads meet up it is great, everybody enjoys it.
“It’s not like you hear in other teams. Everybody gets on really well. It’s a really good set of lads, now hopefully we can start getting results and start qualifying for tournaments.
“We have got a while to wait until March and the draw is in February so hopefully we get a good draw and start qualifying.”
“HE HAS the ability to make you feel ten feet tall. He could turn an ordinary player into a very good player – not by coaching because we never saw him coach on the training ground – but by word.”
Former Nottingham Forest player Brian Laws made the comment above about his old boss Brian Clough, but in the last few weeks, the same has been frequently said of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill.
But it’s time to put this ‘myth’ to an end, O’Neill argued, as he finally grew weary of the claim that he’s a football manager incapable of coaching, or unwilling to dirty his hands on the training ground.
O’Neill was asked, in the aftermath of his second game in charge of Ireland, whether he’d have to change his habits now he’s in charge of an international team, with the implication that he may now be ‘forced’ take some training sessions.
But the former Celtic and Aston Villa boss hit out at this apparent character assassination, and argued that people had him wildly wrong.
“You see, myths grow up about this and it’s simply not true, do you know?” O’Neill said.
“Even the manager (Paolo Di Canio) who was at Sunderland after me [said it], but it’s an absolute myth.
“Sometimes you have a coach there who might do the coaching.
“I would interrupt but if I’m interrupting every single minute of every single day, you know? But it’s a myth that’s grown up here.
“I’ve been in this game twenty years. I managed and coached Wycombe before I had a coach. You know, let’s be fair.
“I managed Leicester City and then I had a coach, Stevie Walford followed me there. Stevie was not my coach at Wycombe Wanderers, I was the coach – a guy called Paul Franklin did some work with me.
“But it’s an absolute myth and I’d love at some stage or other dispel it.”
O’Neill’s managerial style has long been compared with the eccentric Clough, who, according to most of his players, was not a regular visitor to the training ground.
So, does O’Neill feel he is being ‘tarred’ with the same brush as his former boss?
“Exactly, exactly, this is the whole thing. I’ll tell you something, I could count on the fingers of one hand in twenty years the number of days I haven’t been at training. I’ll tell you, absolutely,” he insisted.
“It might be the Clough thing, but it’s an absolute myth that I just go in, and you know, rub your face or something. I wish, I wish.”
While on the subject, O’Neill was also keen to point out some of the injustice surrounding Clough’s coaching ability.
“I’ll tell you something,” he offered, “you talk about Brian Clough. People say he didn’t coach, but one thing I’ll tell you about Brian Clough is that he taught things to players that have stood the test of time, that some coaches would have missed, points they would have missed.
“Points that I’d never heard about, I hadn’t heard about until Clough arrived at Nottingham Forest to tell me-closing players down, closing people down.
“Basically, Brian Clough was a really, really top quality coach, he just wasn’t out on the field every single day.
“In fact, he wasn’t but when he did take training, you listened.
“What I’m saying to you is, too bad, listen if people want to believe it, I’ll get on with it but I can tell you the number of days I’ve missed in twenty years.”
While O’Neill was keen to put an end to one perception of him as a manager, he was happy to let another prevail; the insular manager who keeps himself to himself.
The Derry native doesn’t spend his days arranging golf outings with fellow bosses, and insisted he won’t change much now that he will be dealing with players that belong to other managers.
“No, no, I don’t think I have to change my character just because I’ve stepped into this. No, that’s me,” he argued.
“And let’s be fair, the other managers might actually be quite delighted I don’t phone them. So, I don’t see that changing.
“I think there’s nothing wrong with being polite to someone, nothing wrong with having some form of communication with managers now about the players and, you know, for instance, get in touch with Billy Davies really to apologise for the injury that Andy Reid sustained during my time here.
“But I’m not constantly on the phone to other managers, never have been as a league manager.
“I don’t see the reason for doing that. Of course, if I’m looking to find some player who might belong to another team, of course, and there’s one or two managers that I would have more than one conversation in the course of two or three months but overall, yeah, I’m not in a coterie of little friends. That has never bothered me.”
ANTHONY Stokes has admitted Celtic must stop firing blanks if they want to shoot down AC Milan.
The bottom placed Hoops welcome the Italian giants to Glasgow on Tuesday night, knowing defeat would bury their hopes of making the Champions League knockout stages this season.
But victory could push Celtic up to second in the group, with a trip to the Nou Camp on matchday six to come.
Celtic beat Milan 2-1 when they last visited Glasgow, in 2007, thanks to a 90th minute winner from Scott McDonald, but Neil Lennon’s men have scored just two goals in all four group stage games this season so far.
In contrast, the Hoops had bagged six goals by the same stage last season, and Stokes wants to hit the goal trail as soon as possible.
“We’re just not taking our opportunities, it’s as simple as that,” argued the Ireland hitman.
“I think if you look at our chances created last year in the Champions League, and chances converted, I’d say it’s a high percentage, and it’s difficult to do that again.
“But that’s what we did last year and that was key to our success.
“So maybe this year, we’re missing a bit of luck and we’ve to improve in front of the goal.
“The Milan game at home now is massive. Realistically, we’re pushing for Europa League football.
“It’s a must-win game, but it will be very difficult.”
Stokes set up the James Forrest goal that helped Celtic to a dramatic 3-0 win over Shakter Karagandy in the final qualification round, sealing a 3-2 aggregate win that booked their place in the group stages.
But his hard work since has not been rewarded with a goal, with a couple of chances wasted in good positions in the San Siro, where Celtic looked set to win at least a point but ultimately lost.
“I’ve played reasonably well in Europe this year, it’s difficult, we’re in a very tough group as well,” he argued.
“I think we got one of the toughest groups around, but you have to accept that. Everyone wants to be playing in the Champions League, against the best players in the world, and we got drawn in a group that is probably not appealing to play against, but that’s where you want to be.
“I wouldn’t say should have won in Milan, I’d say could have. We had chances, we didn’t take our opportunities, but, hopefully we’ve learned from that.
“We beat Ajax at home, our home record over the last few years has been outstanding, so hopefully we can keep improving on that.
“It’s a difficult position now with just three points in the first four games, so that’s why Milan is so big.
“But our home record is good and coming to Celtic Park can be difficult for any team.”
Celtic have won eight of their last 11 European fixtures in Glasgow, and boast an overall group stage record of 16 wins and just two defeats from 23 games.
Barcelona were victorious in Glasgow’s East end last month, after Celtic were reduced to ten men, and Stokes admits playing against such quality has provided a footballing education for him personally.
“It’s the first time I’ve played in the group stages, so you have to play different roles, when you play teams like Barcelona you can’t keep too many players up the pitch,” he said.
“So, it’s a new experience for me, I’m learning, and I’m sure by the end of this campaign I’ll be a better player for it.
“Last year was difficult for me, with the injury, it took time to heal and the boys went on a run and it was difficult to watch because you want to be part of nights like that at Celtic Park.
“It was difficult, but it spurred me on and I finished last season quite well, and I started this season ok too, but I think I need to pick it up again.”
The new Ireland manager surveyed an empty Lansdowne Road and reflected on the 3-0 victory that had earlier lit up the stadium.
“After this performance, the sad thing is we haven’t qualified for the World Cup,” he said.
“I thought there were some outstanding individual performances, the players’ attitude was fantastic and they have set high standards.
“It’s gone better than expected, but what’s more pleasing was the performance. Hopefully they will go on from here.”
19 months later Steve Staunton was sacked as Ireland boss, with the 3-0 victory over World Cup-bound Sweden a distant memory.
A 1-0 defeat to Germany six months after that glorious opening night in Dublin 4 was followed by the infamous 5-2 defeat in Cyprus a month later.
At last Martin O’Neill has 10 months to enjoy before any crushing reality of competitive fixtures can set in, but it’s worth remembering just how a manager’s first game in charge can create false optimism.
Take a look at the players Staunton had at his disposal that night, when Ireland humbled the 16th placed team in the world.
Shay Given, Richard Dunne, Ian Harte, Kevin Kilbane, Steven Reid, John O’Shea, Stephen Ireland, Damien Duff, Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle played their part, while Liam Miller thumped home a screamer off the bench.
What could possibly go wrong?
Comparing De Gaffer with O’Neill is a good place to start.
On one hand, you have an experienced manager with League Titles, Cups and European football under his belt, on the other – a former Walsall assistant manager.
And that’s one of the reasons why there’s no need to fear a false dawn.
There’s fewer caps, fewer goals and fewer star names in O’Neill’s squad – but there’s magic in the dressing room.
The Derry man said this week that he wanted to see a higher tempo, he wanted players pressing further up the pitch, he wanted the wingers to attack – hell, he wanted them to shoot.
You can check every box.
He brought us back the James McClean that Sunderland fans wanted to throw garlands at, not guillotine.
He brought back the Aiden McGeady that scored a goal every six games for Celtic, not a goal every thirty games for Ireland.
He brought back excitement – and 30,000 fans that probably would not have made it to Aviva Stadium on Friday night.
But some things never change, and Robbie Keane showed just why ‘Keanooo’ will still be sung for the player – not the assistant manager.
His 62nd international goal, yes, SIXTY TWO, puts him level with (Brazil’s) Ronaldo and Didier Drogba in the all-time international goalscoring charts.
O’Neill’s dressing room magic might help Ireland on the road to Euro 2016, but Keane’s penalty box magic is likely to be just as important.
“If I feel I can help this country, or the manager feels I can help this country, I’ll do my best because that is what I’ve done since I was 18 years of age,” Robbie said earlier this week.
A striker who knows the way to goal, and a manager who knows the way to glory.
Stan by – this could get interesting.
SHANE Long believes Martin O’Neil has inherited a squad that was good enough to go to next year’s World Cup.
And he’s hoping the new Ireland boss can fix what Giovanni Trapattoni broke and lead them to Euro 2016.
The West Brom hitman was beaming after scoring in Ireland’s 3-0 hammering of Latvia in Aviva Stadium on Friday night, and admitted the player’s regret that they now must wait 10 months for a competitive game instead of preparing for Brazil.
“I think four games before the end of the qualification we went in and we were level with Sweden and Austria,” Long said.
“Those two games really killed us and after that it was more or less turning up, we knew we couldn’t qualify.
“It was just disappointing really because I think we’re better than we showed in those two games and hopefully we don’t make that same mistake again.
“They were telling us we’ll get second seeds in next qualification and hopefully that will make a difference for us.
“We deserve to be in the World Cup this year on quality alone.
“We didn’t do it in the qualifications and we need to learn from that.
“I don’t know what more the new men can get out of us, time will tell.
“Expectations are high as players. He [O’Neill] wants us to express ourselves on the pitch, and we’re passing the ball well in training.
“You can see the different approach we took to the game, we’re confident in our own ability and we need to show that in qualifiers.
“We all know we’re good enough to qualify for a major championship and hopefully the new management can pin point the reasons why we didn’t and put it right.
“I don’t think we done too bad, it was those two games that we probably didn’t turn up for that cost us a lot.
“We need to learn from that as players.
“The new management has been there before and they’ll know how to rectify it and pick us up when we’re feeling down.”
O’Neill let the Dublin-based players visit family after training during the week, while the team put on their 3D glasses to watch Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in Gravity on Thursday night.
Between the day trips and the smiles on both players and staff, it’s a different world to that under Trapattoni, and Long admits the difference is a positive one thus far.
“Yeah, I suppose the manager has that Irish in him that he understand us and how we are as people as well,” he said.
“I think the main thing is that freshness, you know.
“I enjoyed playing under Mr Trapattoni, I would never say a bad word about it but results weren’t going our way and I think that little bit of freshness and a bit of a kick up the backside that we needed as players to try and impress someone else.
“The lads respect the manager enough not to do anything stupid. It’s probably a little bit easier going about the place.
“The gaffer has obviously got his own set of rules and as long as the players stick to them there will be no problems. So far so good. it showed tonight, it was out there for all to see.
“Everyone’s training really hard and trying to impress the manager. The first signs are really good, everyone’s enjoying the trip away and looking forward to March again and trying to impress him again.”
AIDEN McGeady kissed and made up with Roy Keane this week – and admitted he’s ready to prove he’s a top player now Giovanni Trapattoni is gone.
Keane hit out at McGeady in the run up to Euro 2012, saying the Spartak Moscow winger ‘threatened to become a top, top player, but hasn’t pulled up trees and needs to do more’.
McGeady, who was at Celtic when Keane joined the Hoops in 2006, hit back labeling the Manchester United legend a motormouth.
“I played with him at Celtic and that was bad enough,” McGeady said. “He is just one of those guys who has something to say about everything.
“I got on with him as a guy, but he is just one of those guys who has an opinion on everything.”
But the pair were all smiles this week, McGeady insists, with the winger thrilled to have Keane on his side for a change.
“I just said to him to him it’s good you’re on our side now because you can’t cane me in the press anymore,” McGeady smiled.
“He’s a very professional person. I played with Roy at Celtic and I know what he’s like.
“Players have faults and I think he probably summed it up well when he said he expects more from me.
“That’s probably because he rates me and does expect more from me. He actually said it’s the ones he’s not talking about who should be worried.
“It was all friendly.”
McGeady was a regular under Trapattoni, but was charged with a more defensive role than he’d have liked – something he admits affected his enjoyment when playing for Ireland.
“I feel I could have done more, and there was a period when I wasn’t really enjoying my football,” he said.
“I don’t want to go into it because it’s probably a little bit derogatory to the old manager and stuff. “It’s not all his fault but I just felt that I was working back the pitch too much and concentrating on that instead of being instinctive and doing more going forward.
“Obviously it’s down to me as well, you know? I’ve probably underperformed but at the same time in the last couple of campaigns I’ve also felt like I’ve been one of our better players.
“I’m not saying I was fantastic but I was quite consistent with the odd bad game here and there like the rest of the team. I expect better from myself as well though.”
McGeady scored the second goal of the night on Friday, and enjoyed more time on the ball, with more freedom to attack than in most games under Trapattoni.
“It’s a little bit different but obviously every manager has a different style of play,” he said.
“Trapattoni was more careful and didn’t want anybody giving the ball away in the fist two thirds of the pitch.
“He’s been successful all his career with that and that’s the way he plays but the new manager is a little bit different.”
“I think everyone went out and played with a bit of freedom. You want to make an impression in the first game and it was nice to play from the start.”
MARTIN O’Neill has been tipped to create history with Ireland just as he did with Celtic.
The new Ireland boss took over a Hoops side in 2000 that had finished the previous season 21 points behind bitter rivals Rangers.
Rangers had won 11 of the previous 12 titles, but O’Neill landed a treble in his very first season in charge, and began a period of domination for the Parkhead side that saw the club pick up six of the next eight titles.
“Just look at his track record,” said former Hoop Aiden McGeady, who was given his Celtic debut by O’Neill in 2004.
“At Celtic he came in and changed the club’s history for a decade. He’ll be regarded as a legend at Celtic.
“Everywhere he has been he’s been successful, he just has the one minor blip at Sunderland but that wasn’t all down to himself.
“He’s come in and he has a presence, and with Roy behind him as well training this week has been pretty intense, there has been nobody slacking.
“That’s why he’s been brought in. He’ll believe he can qualify and we want to do that as well.”
McGeady scored on his debut against Hearts in Tynecastle back in 2004, and was thrilled to get on the scoresheet on O’Neill’s Ireland debut on Friday night.
“He said to me in the dressing room I was due a goal about 20 games ago,” he laughed, “and he’s right, that’s something that looms over me whenever I play for Ireland.
“I feel I can always set up goals but when I get in and around the box I think about it too much and drag my shots wide so I’m just happy to score tonight.
“He fills you with confidence. He says to you ‘go out and do what you can do, there are players out there who can’t do what you do’.
“That’s with myself and James McClean probably as well. He gives you a lot of belief.”