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Sunday 22 October 2017

Stephen Ward: This is not about revenge

Clash with Germans 'not about revenge'

Stephen Ward
Stephen Ward

HE IS one of the survivors from Ireland's 6-1 hammering at home to Germany two years ago but Stephen Ward insists that tonight's Euro 2016 game in Gelsenkirchen is not a revenge mission for this Irish team.

Germany have walked all over Irish teams any time they played them recently, and from the last four competitive games between the countries, at senior and U21 level, the scoreline reads 15-1.

While there were few tears after Germany's 3-0 win over Ireland in Koln as that was deemed a decent enough display by an understrength Irish side under a caretaker manager, the 6-1 loss caused pain to all involved.

But Ward maintains that time has moved on and he has not come to the Ruhr valley tonight seeking vengeance.

"It's not about revenge, not for me anyway," Ward told The Herald.

"They were the best team in the world when we played them and they showed that in Brazil. I think it'd be different if it was someone else and you had a bad day but they were a top side who beat us well, they beat other good sides after that - look at Brazil.

"The 6-1 is long gone and is forgotten about, we go there with our heads screwed on and we feel we can get something.

FATAL BLOWS

"I played in the 6-1," he recalls of that night when the Germans tore Ireland apart and inflicted the first of what would become a string of fatal blows to Giovanni Trapattoni.

"It does hurt, to lose a game like that. But we will be better prepared this time around, we have a game plan and I hope we can pull it off. We have a good chance of getting a result.

"I think that 6-1 was the first time I played in a team that conceded six goals, certainly the first time in my senior career. It was a disappointing night and a crazy game, every shot they had seemed to go in.

"But we go there full of confidence after this game and we hope we can get another good result."

In recent meetings with the Germans, that self confidence from the current World Cup holders meant that they passed through Ireland with a swagger. And while confidence and morale among the German support is low - astonishingly, even though tonight is only their second home competitive game since the World Cup was won, the stadium is not sold out - Germany will still feel that their team of Champions League regulars can win the day.

"We know all about the German players from the Champions League and the World Cup but we can't get too hung up on them, and you can't single them out as individuals. We have to concentrate on our own game plan as that's our best chance of getting a result," says Burnley man Ward.

"We go into with a positive frame of mind and I feel we can get a result. We have done well in the two games so far, two wins and nine goals scored so confidence is high.

"Scotland put up a good show away to Germany and though they lost on the night, there's no reason why we can't have a good night to and stand up to the Germans. We go there as underdogs, people expect Germany to win so we have to use that to our advantage."

Marc Wilson was also on the receiving end of a German lesson but he too is confident ahead of this test.

"They are an unbelievable side, a world class team. I didn't play in the 6-1 but I was there for the 3-0 and it was a tough place to go, they had a lot of possession and kept the ball really well," says Wilson.

"They are a threat going forward and we have to be sharp. You have to be in the right frame of mind, it will be a tough game no matter what.

"These are the games you want to play in, to test yourself against the best. It won't be a walk in the park but we are looking forward to it."

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