Irish eyes are smiling

by Kate Smith

Egan thrilled to be representing country.

Young Sunderland star John Egan has been regular face in Ireland’s under-21 squad, since making his debut this past May.

The call-up capped a rewarding season for the defender, who enjoyed loan spells at Crystal Palace and Sheffield United during the 2011-12 campaign, as well as being named under-19 International Young Player of the Year by the FAI.

Egan made an instant impression during his first run-out against Denmark at the Tallaght Stadium and has been involved with the team ever since.

“When I was called up to the under-21s at the end of last season I thought I’d just be a bit-part player,” Egan admitted.

“But I’ve ended up playing every game since then and that’s been brilliant.

“I love playing for my country and always will.

“At the start I didn’t know many players in the squad, there were a few familiar faces from being in the under-19s and we were a pretty strong bunch.

“I imagine the manager will stick with a few of the same players next year too.”

Egan’s Republic of Ireland side were knocked out of next year’s European Championships after suffering defeat in Hungary, however, they bounced back with a thrilling victory over Italy in Casarano.

“We were unlucky not to qualify really.” Egan added.

“Beating Italy on home turf was a great feat. I read a stat after the game saying that it was the first time they had been beaten there in 10 years - and the first time they had conceded four goals.

“So looking at it that, was a huge victory for us.

“Hopefully if I can stay in the team and be part of that we can push to qualify next time round.

“Everybody wants to play for their country – every man, woman and child in Ireland wants to play for them – it’s a great honour.

“I’m just delighted every time I get the opportunity to walk out in the green jersey.”