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Roy Keane Praises Ireland's Mark Sykes For 'Brave' International Decision

Roy Keane Praises Ireland's Mark Sykes For 'Brave' International Decision
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton
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Mark Sykes made history when he stepped onto the pitch for Ireland during the November international window. By coming on in the friendly against Malta, he became the first Belfast native to line out for the Republic since the 1940s.

The midfielder wasn't always necessarily destined to play for Stephen Kenny's sdie at international level. He lined out for Northern Ireland at various youth levels, although he turned down the opportunity to be brought into the senior squad on a couple of occasions.

While the 25-year old would have had more guarantees of game time with the North, he ultimately opted to pursue his international future elsewhere. It was a brave decision, one that was justified when he made his debut last year.

Roy Keane praises Mark Sykes for 'brave' Ireland decision

Mark Sykes was playing in League One at the time he declared for Ireland, making a call-up far from a guarantee. He would ultimately earn a move from Oxford United to Bristol City last summer, since excelling in the Championship.


Speaking on ITV ahead of their FA Cup game against Manchester City this evening, Roy Keane admitted that he has been impressed with what he has seen from Sykes. He also praised him for making a 'brave' decision over his international future.

Sykes is obviously a good player, it was a good move for him in the summer. He's a a talented boy, can play in a number of positions, he has even played at wingback.

It's a good opportunity for him tonight, these lads have worked hard throughout their careers. He has been down in the lower leagues, got a move from Oxford United in League One. It's a nice test for him.

He made a big decision a few months ago in declaring that he wanted to play for Ireland after coming through playing underage with Northern Ireland. He's obviously a a brave boy, he made a brave decision there.

It's great to see these players live, we don't ordinarily do when they're in the Championship. It'll be nice to see what sort of player he is.

Keane doesn't hand out praise easily, so those comments are quite the endorsement for Mark Sykes.


Speaking at the end of last year, he explained why he made the move to Ireland.

When Stephen Kenny first gave me the call it was a no-brainer. It was maybe a risk in terms of game time, but not a risk in terms of what I wanted to do.

When I was growing up there was never anything for me to be part of regarding the Republic of Ireland.

Our family didn't have a lot of money, they couldn't drive me back and forward to Dublin or wherever a soccer school was set up...

When you're young the nationality side of things doesn't come into it as much, but when you're older you realise 'maybe that is the thing for me'.

A brave decision to make, in more ways than one.


Here's hoping he has a long and successful career in green.

SEE ALSO: David Beckham & Peter Crouch Spotted Living It Up In Dublin


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