Its been a difficult year for Wolves winger Stephen Hunt after suffering relegation for the third time in his career, but things are looking up as he joins the Ireland squad in preparation for the Euro 2012 tournament.
Hunty told us how the competition for places in Traps team is healthy, and how they plan to go on and make history in Poland and Ukraine.
Preparing for the tournament…
“Its getting close, everyone feels it’s upon us now, the season is over with our clubs, so it’s just a matter of getting as fit as you can and getting focussed and being determined to do well.
I feel like a golfer going into a major tournament. Playing tournaments leading up to it where you’re trying to get your fitness, get your game into shape, you’re working on things to a certain degree, going to the gym and that, but now it’s getting closer and closer… it’ll slowly happen and hopefully you’ll peak at the right time”.
“I have unbelievable memories of the 2002 World Cup.
I was in Ireland at the time. My career was in disarray then, really going down the drain at the time, to a degree lesser people would have crumbled but I was lucky to be strong and work through it and it worked out ok.
I remember the goal celebrations of Keano, and Duffer, then ten years later to be in the same team, and looking to get Duffer’s place to a certain degree. It’s credit to him he’s still around, he obviously looks after himself.
I watched it in the local pub in Carrick on Siur, with friends. I wasn’t drinking, but I might have been better off! I remember being an emotional wreck after one of the games, I wished that could have been me – now I’m thinking – you know what, I can be part of the history.
I wouldn’t class being part of history as not playing, being part of it would be to score a winning goal, to have a major impact on the tournament and be remembered for that – so that’s my aim for the next four weeks.
We have a tournament to play in, it’s not like ten years ago where no matter what, the Irish team would come back heroes. Society has changed, and we could easily come back villains. We need to go there and do well and make our own history because it’s not going to be easy”.
Battle to make the team…
“I’ve played half my games when I’ve been fit, I think I’ve played the same amount of games as Duffer in the last campaign, so obviously Duff and McGeady, were picked in the first game in Estonia, then I was picked.
I know the manager gives me my fair share of games, I play most of the games, so he believes in me.
Luckily enough my brain has not been media trained for the last 3-4 months, otherwise I would have crumbled. Luckily I’m a strong character.
Credit where credits due James McClean’s had a good season and it’s healthy competition for the squad. When Andy Reid came along four years ago, Stephen Ireland came along, and Seamus Coleman to a certain degree two years ago, all the press wanted them to play at the time. That’s just the way football is. You deal with it in your own way and it motivates me to do better and have the competition in the squad”.
Listen to the Padcast to find out more of Hunt’s insights in to the Ireland team including rooming with John O’Shea, and his thoughts on Stephen Kelly and Damien Duff…
“They think they’re young and trendy!”