Saturday 19 January 2019

'Setbacks pave the way for comebacks' is motto for Arter

Harry Arter signs shirts at the Aviva Stadium: SPORTSFILE
Harry Arter signs shirts at the Aviva Stadium: SPORTSFILE

Between now and the Tuesday night deadline, when Martin O'Neill cuts down his squad for Euro 2016, we're going to hear a lot about pain, disappointment and misery .

Harry Arter is one of those players who has a chance, though not a guarantee, of making the squad and while the Bournemouth midfielder will of course be delighted to make it into the final 23, or will be downhearted if he misses out, recent events his his family life will help him keep things in perspective.

That, in itself, is one of the most over-used clichés in sport - anyone can use anything at all beyond the norm to 'put things in perspective'. But the loss of his daughter Renee, at birth, less than six months ago is an integral part of his life, his career, now.

Renee is close to him at all times, with a tattoo on his wrist documenting her short life with the words 'Setbacks Pave The Way For Comebacks'.

"I have her picture on my phone which I look at every day. To me, she's lived, she's been with the world and she's been a positive influence on my life, and other people's lives too," says Arter, speaking to the media at FAI's Dublin HQ after training yesterday.

"I still am grieving - I don't know really when you would stop. I'm happy to talk about her as if she's existed, like you would talk about your children. It makes me proud that people are talking about her."

Arter, who slogged his way from the non-league scene up the ranks to his current status as a Premier League player and an international, says that the episode in December taught him a great deal.


"I learned about what is really important in life, as I sit here today. My most important thing is family, making sure everyone is healthy, making sure my partner is ok I learnt lot about myself, really," he reflects.

"You grow up quite a lot. I wouldn't say I was immature but I'd like to think I've matured since then. Football was something that helped me a lot at that time. I'm passionate about football and when you have passion you can focus. Lucky for me, I have that. The support from family and friends were key. In the first couple of days it was nice we had a worldwide support which we did as a couple and family, which was credit to everyone. As time went on, family was crucial for my happiness. Hopefully I can do her proud."

In terms of his football career, the fact that he's even here in Dublin is a bonus for Arter and a sign of how highly he is rated by Martin O'Neill.


Yet to start an Ireland game or play in a competitive senior international, he lacks the experiences held by competing players, such as David Meyler or Darron Gibson, but his quality on the ball is a real asset for O'Neill, though no guarantee of a ticket to France.

Harry Arter is consoled by Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe last season: Reuters / Toby Melville
Harry Arter is consoled by Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe last season: Reuters / Toby Melville

"It's down to how I perform here with the lads, I'm very inexperienced in the sense of international level so I've got a lot to prove to the manager and I'm more than happy to do that challenge if I get a chance against Holland, any game time, or any training is a window for me to try and do well," he says.

"It doesn't matter what's happened in terms of past experience and how many games I've played this season. If I'd played 38, 20 or 5, he's put me here for a reason, to try to show what I can do and that's what I'm going to do," added Arter, who insists that injury will not be a problem.

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