This summer could well be an unforgettable experience for the Irish football team and their enigmatic manager.
In the past, Ireland has had some happy experiences at international tournaments. As a footballing nation we have always managed to hold our heads up high and perform well on the pitch. We may not have had teams full of superstars but we have always gone with plans that have ensured a good standard of results.
Unfortunately, as much as we do not like to admit it, as a race we are not naturally flashy flair type footballers. Irish players are marked by their hard working etiquette, their ability to do the simple things right, their physicality and a never say die attitude. Our style of football is harsh, physical and rarely risky. This style suits Giovanni Trapattoni perfectly. His football philosophy fits in with the Irish game and makes it work. In truth Trap has very Irish values when it comes to down to it. He is a strict disciplinarian, believes in hard work, values the players who are with him the longest and does not see any player as bigger than the team. You could actually easily see him managing any GAA club up or down the country. Granted of course the language barrier might cause a few problems but in fairness I can remember a few coaches from my time that I could barely understand, and we were supposed to be speaking the same language. Trap is conservative and not willing to change no matter how much the media or pundits or bar stoolers rant or rave. The fact that he has brought James McClean though shows that he is not totally impregnable.
Being written off or not counted is the best place for this Irish team. They always play better for against supposedly bigger and better teams. They will put everything into the next few days. In truth what more could you ask from these lads.
Right now on the eve of Irelands opening game of the tournament we must look forward to the next nine days with hope and anticipation. We have to be positive. The time is now we are in a great position to really go and show the world what Irish hard work is really about. We are the lowest of the underdogs in not only our group but also the whole bloody tournament. This is exactly where we want to be.