As the Tribune points out, Stephen Kelly’s the only player in the top flight to have played more in Europe than in the league. He’ll probably start on the bench in Hamburg, but you can the sense that doesn’t really bother him either.
I suppose that’s just the way things have worked out. It’s been a long season but I’ve enjoyed every second of it. It was so frustrating to be injured for the two Wolfsburg games because I think I played in nearly every European game before that. But the experience has been brilliant.
There’s been some amazing moments, games that will stay with me forever and the Fulham fans as well I’m sure. The Juventus game at Craven Cottage obviously, stood out. There aren’t many players who can say they were part of a team to beat Juventus 4-1. That was an amazing night but so were the games against Shakhtar Donesk, both home and away. They were a brilliant team, the holders, and we put in two magnificent performances.
His contribution to our astonishing European run should secure a spot in Giovani Trapattoni’s thoughts for the Republic’s European Championship qualifying campaign.
I certainly hope this Europa Cup run will have caught his [Trapattoni’s] eye. I don’t think it will do me any harm, anyway. When you think about it, it’s another string to my bow. If you’re playing regularly in the Premier League as opposed to the Championship that’s one thing, but to have played regularly in European competition has to be a help when trying to impress an international manager. After my experiences this season I suppose I can make him think, ‘He’s been there, done that, he’s performed on the European stage’.
There’s an intriguing comparison between Hodgson and Trapattoni too.
They have quite a lot in common when you think about it. I suppose they’re both quite regimented in how they want their teams to go about their business. They make sure that everybody in the team knows exactly what their job is on the pitch. They do the same kind of drills in training. There are a lot of similarities.
Ciaran Cronin’s piece ends with a lovely little thought:
The last two Irish footballers to win a Uefa Cup medal were a full-back and winger playing for a London club who wore white. All going well in the next few weeks, Kelly and Damien Duff could be the new Chris Hughton and Tony Galvin, 26 years on.