Football

"I Knew It Was So Wrong" - David Forde On The Drinking Culture In The Ireland Squad

"I Knew It Was So Wrong" - David Forde On The Drinking Culture In The Ireland Squad

Republic of Ireland international goalkeeper David Forde was the latest guest on Richie Sadlier's 'The Player's Chair' podcast as part of Second Captains World Service, and he gave an eye-opening look at the drinking culture that he found himself in when Giovani Trapattoni called him into the Ireland setup.

Forde was released by Millwall when his contract expired in the summer, but was Ireland's #1 goalkeeper as recently as 2015 when he enjoyed a run of 11 games between the sticks for Ireland in which he handled the job in an impressive fashion.

But it took a while for the Galway man to get comfortable in the setup.

Now alcohol-free for over three years having made the choice to cut it out of his life, Forde explained how big a role drinking played in 'fitting in' to the Irish squad when he was introduced to it in 2011, and how he felt that it wasn't right from early on.

When I first got into that [Ireland] team, I knew it was so wrong.

I knew that behaviour was wrong. Deep down I knew this isn't actually right here, what we're actually doing [the amount of drinking].

You came into that environment and all of a sudden you could feel the difference, the cross-culture between the management and the players. I mean that by the likes of Trapattoni and Tardelli, you know? They literally said 'if you're having a drink tonight lads have a glass of wine or two glasses of wine' or whatever... You say that to an Irishman, to an Irish team, or to me when I was younger... It was like 'I'll have 10 pints'.

We just didn't take responsibility for that, and understand that we've actually got a duty and a job to do here, for our nation. That's the space I was coming from.

But because I just wanted to fit in and be part of that group, I was so desperate to be in it, I actually betrayed certain parts of myself. So there was parts of me where I thought, Jesus, I was so angry with myself for allowing myself to partake in that, but I just wanted to be one of the lads.

Forde went on to make some very interesting points regarding immaturity in the sport of football, something he feels is extremely prevalent in the game, and expressed his belief that there was no feeling that the players could have fun and enjoy themselves without the presence of alcohol and ridicule.

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Sadlier too revealed that his first training session with Ireland was experienced with a nasty hangover as he felt peer pressured to go out on the lash the night before when the squad had met up.

The only time I think I ever trained hungover, was the first training session I had with the Ireland senior team.

Now if you told me as a kid or as an adult at any point in my life you'll never drink the night before training at Millwall, but because of peer pressure you'll go out and get plastered the night before your first training session [with Ireland]... That's what I did.

We met up on a Saturday, texts flew around the previous week, 'lads bring your going out clothes', all into Lilly's on a Saturday night, and we trained the next morning.

It was actually great craic because most of us were half-cut, but again I had that lingering thing in my head going 'I didn't think it'd be like this...'

The news that Irish footballers meet up and enjoy a few drinks around international fixtures should come as a surprise to nobody, and it must be stressed that nobody is suggesting that footballers shouldn't be allowed to unwind and enjoy themselves, but few would have expected that nights of getting plastered before training with games only a few days away were still going on as recently as 2011.

It was a fascinating discussion, as Forde and Sadlier moved on to discuss the mentality of Irish people as a whole and how our supposed 'inferiority complex' leads to us accepting second best when perhaps we could have done more in the sporting arena. We've heard that idea before from a certain member of Martin O'Neill's coaching staff after all.

You can listen to Forde's chat with Sadlier in full via Second Captains World Service.

Mikey Traynor

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