Football

Keith Andrews Gives Extremely Revealing Explanation As To What Went Wrong At Euro 2012

Keith Andrews Gives Extremely Revealing Explanation As To What Went Wrong At Euro 2012

Keith Andrews has shed significant light on what exactly went wrong with Ireland's humiliating Euro 2012 campaign under Giovanni Trapattoni.

Andrews, whose punditry on TV3 has drawn rave reviews in the past 12 months, joined Balls.ie's new football podcast Friends in Football with his old Stella Maris coach and current Sheffield United scout Gerry Reddy, to discuss his career and the future for Irish football.

He did, however, hesitantly cast an eye back to Poland and Ukraine five summers ago, where his Ireland team entered the Euros with an expectant nation behind them, only to exit the tournament at its group stages having scored just one goal.

Andrews, whose tournament ended with a red card versus Italy and a ball furiously booted along the sideline towards nobody in particular, reflected glumly on one of Irish football's most disappointing hours, and explained that the alarm bells had been ringing for him and a number of the Ireland players long in advance of the tournament itself.

He also suggested that Ireland's unforgiving training regime might have thrown them off course, but by the time the tournament rolled around, it was too late to fix.

It doesn't sit well with me, even to this day. I don't particularly like talking about it. I very rarely think of it. If it does come into my head, I try to get it out as quickly as possible.

I was 31 at the time. You know you're not going to get many more opportunities if at all. The way it went - it was horrible.

Why? At the time, you don't know why. Looking back now, we'd only ever been together for a maximum of 10 days. And we trained very similarly; there wasn't much thought put into the whole physical preparation for games. We trained at a really good intensity every single day. Whereas I think Italians, continentals, can train and they can manage themselves through sessions, so days off - [to help you] mentally and physically - aren't so much of an issue for continental players.

You've seen a huge change in England in the last 10 years, where there's a four-day buildup to a game, where the traditional English week would be that you'd have a Sunday and a Wednesday off to give you that break. Whereas we trained, full-on, for the guts of a month.

The alarm bells started ringing, really, in the 0-0 draw away to Hungary. I felt - and I know from speaking to some of the lads as well - we felt like we were playing in treacle. No energy, no legs... That was the start of it. From then it snowballed, and when you get close to the tournament, it's too late. And then within the space of 90 minutes, we were probably out of the tournament.

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Irish squads, of course, are often famed for their heart and determination - even in defeat. The 2012 Euros squad, however, were chastised for what many perceived to be the distinct lack of said qualities during three comprehensive defeats to three admittedly difficult opponents.

Andrews revealed that, for the first time in his career, he witnessed an Ireland squad who - by mid-Euros - couldn't bear to spend time with each other; even his own friendship with Stephen Ward was stretched to its limits amidst a poisonous atmosphere in the team hotel.

I roomed with Stephen Ward for the last couple of years of my career. We get on really well, and genuinely, I think if you asked all the lads, Irish squads have always gotten on very well. But by the end of this tournament, we literally couldn't stand the sight of each other. We had that much cabin fever. We were with each other non-stop, there was no mental break. I ended up having to go and room on my own, just to have my own space.

I quickly realised, you know, 'This isn't going to plan. This isn't feeling good.' And just from my own point of view, what I could control was...Like, I'm not big on social media, I'm on no social media. I was going on fans forums - apps like yourselves - to try and convert myself from being a player stuck in that hotel where you couldn't really get out and do anything, to being a fan. So I was seeing all these pictures of the fans, where they were, what they were up to, the craic that was going on, and thinking about what I was like when I was a fan - when I went to the World Cup in '94 with my family, the games I'd been to at the Aviva, watching the big games on tv.

So I was quickly trying to transform myself into a fan to try and grasp this huge opportunity that I'd waited and worked so hard for. It was very frustrating.

The former Ireland international went on to explain the players' mindset ahead of that superb infamous night in Paris back in 2009, where Ireland reportedly ignored Giovanni Trapattoni's instructions and played ball. He is also joined by youth football guru Gerry Reddy to put minds at ease with a view to Irish football's future.

You can listen to the full episode of Keith Andrews' appearance on Friends in Football on iTunes and all of your regular podcast providers.

SEE ALSO: Win Two Tickets To The Massive Ireland-Wales Game

Gavan Casey
Article written by
Former handwriting champion. Was violently bitten by a pelican at Fota Wildlife Park in 2001.

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