herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Trap will keep job whatever the result says FAI boss Delaney

GIOVANNI Trapattoni's job as Irish manager is safe -- regardless of the result against Spain -- FAI boss John Delaney has revealed.

Delaney has given the Italian his 100pc backing ahead of the make-or-break tie.

He says the Italian is "a legend" who has proven himself time and time again.

And as 32,000 Irish supporters took over Gdansk today, Delaney told the Herald that he believes the squad can cause the biggest upset of the tournament by turning over the world champions tonight.

"I think we'll get a performance tonight. I really do. We've rarely had two bad performances back to back."

But thousands of our travelling supporters are set to miss the game because tickets are so scarce. Local touts are looking for upwards of €500 for standard seats.







Legend

Ireland must get at least a draw to have any chance of progressing. But in an exclusive interview with the Herald at the team's hotel in Sopot, the FAI chief emphasised that Trap's future is secure, no matter what happens tonight.

"He's our manager. I don't think Trapattoni has to answer to too many people in terms of what he has achieved in football.

"He's proven over the course of his time that he's a great manager, not a good manager, a great manager," Delaney said.

"I know the players have a lot respect for him and the supporters do too, and certainly the association does as well.

"He is a legend."

He added that nobody in the squad wanted to feel like they did after last Monday's disaster against Croatia.

"We had the flight up that night from Poznan to Gdansk. It's a 25-minute trip, but it felt like three hours. It really did."

Thousands of fans converged on the team hotel yesterday hoping to get a glimpse of the players, some of whom spent the day at the beach before training at the stadium where they will take on Spain today.

The Sheraton is in the centre of Sopot, meaning the players cannot escape the hype around tonight's game.

But Delaney said they were enjoying the build-up.

"Up until yesterday there wasn't a problem, but the fans hadn't really arrived. But it's good for the players' karma to meet the supporters and get a photograph taken."

The Irish fans are fast becoming one of the big stories of the tournament, with media from all over the world following the boys in the green.

Delaney said: "The highlight for me was the national anthem in Poznan. It was absolutely brilliant. Even one of the guys from UEFA, a Greek guy who is the deputy chief, was two seats away from me and he just goes 'Wow'!.

"I was talking to Robbie (Keane) last night. The players do really respect what the fans are doing by coming out, spending their money and supporting their country.







Sensational

"Robbie said to me last night that never in his life did he feel an atmosphere like in Poznan. It was special."

Delaney anticipates the atmosphere at game against Spain will be even better.

"You just see all the green flooding in. There are even more Irish coming.

"People out here are enjoying it because it's a holiday following your country, and if we do well, it's sensational for them.

"They are really enjoying themselves. Everywhere the fans go they are having a ball. I heard something about 32,000 coming up for the game."

But he admitted that there will be people left outside the ground.

"And it's a shame after spending money to come here to be left outside. I know a lot of Irish are buying off the locals and paying above the price."

kdoyle@herald.ie

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