Wolves’ Stephen Ward thrilled with Ireland progress
Wolverhampton Wanderers' Stephen Ward says playing for his country has helped him to raise his game
Stephen Ward believes he is reaping the rewards of playing international football, insisting he has grown in confidence since picking up his first Republic of Ireland cap.
Ward netted the Republic’s goal in the 1-1 draw with Estonia in Dublin that confirmed their place at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine next summer.
And the Wolverhampton Wanderers star, who made his international debut in May, says he has learnt a lot under the guidance of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni during the latter stages of their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.
“I have benefitted from working with him [Trapattoni],” said Ward. “He’s a world-class manager and it’s good to get another view on where I’m playing and trying to find a good mix between what I’m learning from the two of them [Wolves boss Mick McCarthy and Trapattoni]. I feel a lot more confident since I became an international.”
The 26-year-old Ward has been handed the No3 jersey for Ireland ““ but he knows he has a long way to go if he is to replicate the achievements of that shirt’s previous owner, Kevin Kilbane.
“Those are massive boots to fill because he is one of the greatest players ever to play for Ireland,” he continued. “Having met him in the squad, I can see that he is a great professional and he has been good to me.
“He always says nice things about me, even though we are rivals for the same position ““ and that is the mark of the man that he is.”
Ward has impressed for both club and country of late but he insists he is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
“You can never rest on your laurels,” he added. “You always have to be at your best because you could be here one day and if you don’t work hard enough you mightn’t be at a club like Wolves the next day.
“I always want to improve my game, because it can be the difference in moving on to the next level of my career.”