Friday, October 9, 2009
St Ledger looking to continue dream
Ireland defender Sean St Ledger admits Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Italy is the biggest game of his career.
The central defender has started Ireland's last five games and is set to continue at Croke Park as Giovanni Trapattoni's men attempt to pip the Azzurri to top spot in Group Eight.
Ireland need to guarantee a win to keep their hopes of an automatic qualification spot for next year's tournament in South Africa alive, and 24-year-old St Ledger believes they have nothing to lose.
"I would imagine that, when the fixtures came out, this would be the game everyone was looking at and, from a footballer's point of view, it is probably the same," he said.
"You have to take each game one step at a time but, now the game is here, it is massive.
"It's massive. It's the biggest game of my career to date. We are playing one of the great football nations, not just now but in terms of history as well.
"If you look at the importance of the game, realistically, we are probably looking at the play-offs and that's going to be tough for us.
"But we have got nothing much to lose. We can go out there and try to beat the Italians."
"St Ledger has had a busy year which has seen the defender move from Preston to Middlesbrough on a short-term deal with a view to a permanent move, as well as being thrust onto the international scene.
"Only a few months back I wasn't in the squad at all and now I have got five caps," he added. "It's like a dream come true.
"I wasn't in the squad to go to Italy, which was obviously disappointing at the time, but it is going to be strange walking out with the likes of Gattuso and people like that.
"Only a couple of years ago, I was playing against Bradford in front of 2,000 people and their dogs. It's a major difference but something I would like to taste more of."