Stephen Kelly hopes Ireland can avenge France defeat

Stephen Kelly says victory over Estonia in their Euro 2012 play-off will banish memories of loss to France

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
giovanni trappatoni
Giovanni Trapattoni's men take on Estonia in the first leg of their play-off on Friday Photo: Soccer.ru

giovanni trappatoni

Stephen Kelly wants the Republic of Ireland to beat Estonia in their Euro 2012 play-off to help banish memories of their heartbreaking loss to France during the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Ireland suffered a last-gasp 2-1 aggregate defeat by Les Bleus in November 2009 as France went through with a goal which should have been disallowed for a blatant handball by Thierry Henry.

But the 28-year-old Fulham defender believes that cruel defeat will finally be consigned to the past – if they get past Estonia.

“The freshest in the memory is still France and everybody has got that scar that wound is still there,” said Kelly.

“It’s something that if we qualify now, hopefully that will be papered over and that will be it, we can forget about it and it will be all done. It’s fresh in our minds and we are all keen to not let something like that happen again.”

Ireland have only qualified for a major tournament from the play-off stage once before – courtesy of a 2-1 aggregate victory over Iran back in 2001 – and they have not featured at a tournament since the 2002 World Cup.

And Kelly is hoping he will be able to emulate the Irish heroes of the 1990 and 1994 World Cups in Poland and Ukraine next summer.

“Just to think back at that [World Cup 2002], it makes you smile and think about how close we are to possibly being at a stage like that again where we could really give the country a boost, which would be a fantastic thing to do,” he continued.

“As a kid, you always supported Ireland. I always supported teams in the Premier League, but Ireland was the team you watched and you cared about the most.

“Growing up playing football, your dream is to play for Ireland and play in a major tournament.

“We are very close to it now and if it comes through, it will be a dream come true for me and I am sure everybody else in the team. It would be a special thing.

“I know the way all of us feel about playing for our country and playing for Ireland, so it be a fantastic achievement.”

MORE:

MORE: The latest football transfer news

MORE: Meet the Premier League's most stylish footballers

MORE: Do you know the top Muslim footballers in the Premier League?

MORE: Man United latest news

MORE: Arsenal latest news

MORE: Chelsea latest news

MORE: Liverpool latest news

The Sport Review
Friendly rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer celebrate ‘the great memories we shared’
The Sport Review
Top 50 most stylish footballers in the world in 2017: Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool stars feature
The Sport Review
Top 40 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United stars feature
The Sport Review
Top 25 footballers’ cars: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid players feature
The Sport Review
Top 20 Nigerian footballers in Premier League: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool stars feature
The Sport Review
Arsenal player wages 2017: Do you know how much Xhaka, Ozil and Coquelin earn each week?
The Sport Review
Lineker sends message to Arsenal fans after 5-2 win over Everton
The Sport Review
Jose Mourinho confirms return of key Man United star for Tottenham clash
The Sport Review
Gary Neville pinpoints where Man United need to improve