Walters so proud
Poignant night in Poznan as Irish skipper salutes his deceased Dublin-born mother
A DULL, scoreless draw in a friendly in the last game of the calendar year is not something that will live long in the memory – but for Jonathan Walters, last night's 0-0 draw with Poland was one of the highlights of his career as the Stoke City man got to captain his country for the first time.
Walters qualified for Ireland as his late mother, Helen, was from Dublin and sadly she passed away before he got to start his international career, but family was in his mind and heart when he led Ireland out in the INEA Stadium last night.
"It was one of the proudest moments of my career. I know I had a very proud mother watching over me," Walters said.
"It was a surprise when I was told in the changing room that I was the captain, it didn't change how I played but I was immensely proud. I was captain at Ipswich for a spell so I knew a bit of what was expected of me."
When the Irish players assembled in Dublin more than 10 days ago to start life under the new management team of Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, Walters would have been excused for having some tension in his system as he had an issue with Keane when the pair were at Ipswich Town.
Walters famously claimed that he felt the need to take a picture of his vomit to prove that he was missing training due to sickness.
"I even took a picture of my sick and sent it to the physio because I knew Roy wouldn't believe me," he said at the time, also claiming that Keane then took the Ipswich captaincy away from Walters.
Keane said last week that his past history with one player, Aiden McGeady, was cleared up instantly and was now just a case of banter, and Walters says the same happened with him.
"It's been really good, the lads were really enthusiastic about working with Roy," he says, adding that Keane dealt with him in a similar manner to McGeady.
"It was the same, just banter, we had a laugh and it was fine. I said a while back that I would give him a go as manager, I enjoyed training with him at Ipswich.
"Training was spot-on, I really enjoyed it and also how he was with people. It's what you expect, I enjoyed it here this week. We just had a laugh about it and moved on," he added.
"We are all very enthusiastic and the lads are all buzzing. I just wish the qualifying games were sooner, rather than later, we have a while to wait now until the next game in March but we have a lot of club games between now and then, when we want to impress."
And so the international scene switches off until Serbia visit Dublin in March, though there is the key date in February, the draw in Nice for the qualifying groups for Euro 2016.
"Hopefully we get a good draw in February, it's good for us that Greece beat Romania so we should be second seeds.
"A lot could happen between now and the qualifiers in September, a lot of club games so we will see where we are all then.
"There are a lot of players who are not in the squad who will want to get in, who knows who will be involved? It's exciting times," added Walters.