Friday 15 December 2017

This Harry Arter is no flash in the pan

Arter makes a long slog from non-league to Ireland squad


It's an overnight success story that was seven years in the making.

But if Harry Arter does manage to carry on his rise up the ladder and through the ranks by making an appearance for Ireland in Sunday's Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland, it will be a valediction of patience combining with potential at last.

Arter, 25, has never played in the top flight at club level and is today having only his second training session with the senior Ireland squad.

Described by some as one of the best midfielders in the Championship, his form is one of the reasons why Bournemouth are well-placed to win promotion to the Premier League for next season.

That would be a new chapter at club level for a player who dropped down to the non-league scene, but his presence in Dublin this week is a rebirth at international level.

His involvement with the Irish U17s ended badly in 2006 (sent off in a 3-0 home defeat in his last game at that level) and so did his last-ever appearance in a green shirt, sent off (again) in a loss to Portugal in an U19 Euro qualifier in 2007.

As he slid down the divisions at club level, international ambitions also receded, understandably so, admits the player who was bypassed by U21 international football.

"I ended up dropping into non league so playing international football was out of the question. In my head it wasn't even something I spoke about," says Arter, pleased that his call-up has come at last.

Harry Arter
Harry Arter

"Realistically, I think this is the best time for me to come. It's the best time I've been ready for the opportunity. As much as it was at the back of my mind a few years ago, it was something I was hoping for in the recent months."

That form with the Cherries has seen Arter sparkle but there were hard times along the way, yet the former Charlton player was toughened up by that spell in non-league, with Woking (2009-10), having already played on loan at glamour spots Staines and Welling.

To the Conference and back is a well-worn path, as someone like Steve Finnan ended up in the non-league scene and went on to win the Champions League and play in a World Cup finals.


And there's no sob story from Arter about his time below the Football League. "There are probably loads of players who go to non league and end up staying there," Arter admits.

"It's easy, when you're down at that level, to blame other things or point the finger at other people as to why you are there, but there's a reason for it, you have failed at the level you were at and you have to prove yourself again.

"One thing I felt I had to do was work hard, and I am doing that now, working hard to try and achieve my goals and the key to success is working hard."

He has won Martin O'Neill's eye. No matter how well he does in training, it's hard to see Arter getting ahead of players like James McCarthy, Glenn Whelan and Darron Gibson in terms of a place in the starting XI, but his impressive attacking presence and ability to put his foot on the ball could become an option off the bench for O'Neill on Sunday, if needed.

"Someone like James McCarthy is a top player and he's at the level that I want to eventually get to," he says.

"These players have earned the right to play in the Premier League and have the international experience which I haven't had yet, I still have a bit of learning to do, they are top, top players and it will be a good experience playing with them."

His Sligo connections ensured that childhood holidays were spent in Ireland - now Arter has more reasons to spend time in his granny's homeland.

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