An ode to Ian Harte and the desire to represent one’s country

by James Clancy

Harte IrelandFollowing a stirring performance for Reading over the weekend which saw Ian Harte provide assists for both of The Royals‘ goals in their 2-1 win over Sunderland, the Louth man has hit out at Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni.

Having once again been overlooked by the Italian for this week’s international friendly against Poland in Dublin, the Louth native tweeted yesterday:  

To all the people asking if I have retired from international football.no I haven’t trap didn’t even know I was Irish #whataclown

The 35 year-old has gotten some stick in reply from the Twitteratti as well as on other social media.  This is something which I find quite hard to believe.  Yes, Harte doesn’t really have the speed any more to perform as a full-back bombing up and down the flanks at the highest level of international football.  He is though a better option than Trapattoni’s first choice left-back; Stephen Ward.

It’s surely a no brainer?  Having enjoyed something of a renaissance in his club career, Harte is a regular starter with a Premier League side while Ward plays for Championship strugglers Wolves.  Coupled with that the fact that Harte can deliver a pinpoint long ball pass out of defence, which should be optimally suited to Ireland’s hit and rush “style” of play under Trapattoni.

The long ball game the Italian has forced upon this Irish set-up could surely only benefit from a man who canaccurately pass a long ball to a man 40 yards away?  There is also the small matter of Harte’s thunderous left-foot set piece deliveries.  Any foul conceded 30 yards or less from goal sends shivers down the spine of opposition defences when Harte sets his radar with his left foot primed to send a rocket goalward.

Harte deserves to be commended for his outspoken views on Trapattoni.  For too long the 73 year-old has gotten away with doing a shoddy, haphazard and error strewn “job” as Irish soccer manager.  From staying in Milan watching dvd’s of club matches instead of attending them to failing to pick the best players available until there is a public outcry to failing to learn the language after five years in the job, were it not for the size of his contract, the geriatric chancer would have been removed from his overly lucrative post years ago.

This morning’s tweet from the man who has played in a Champions League semi-final wasn’t strictly true; Trapattoni knows now that he is indeed Irish.  Until last year however, the former Juventus manager did not know that Harte was Irish, even though the former Leeds United star has played at a World Cup (which Trapattoni managed at) and is the second leading scorer within the current Irish setup having scored 11 international goals from full back!

Maybe if more people who care about Irish football (as Ian Harte clearly does) spoke out against the Milanese native, he might just have already been issued with his P45 instead of bungling along until the end of this World Cup qualifying campaign which is almost certainly doomed to abject failure.

There are those that argue that Harte is  ”past it”  at international level.  He deserves to be commended and not castigated though for his desire to represent his national team in an era when top flight footballers are only keen to chase the gravy train that is club football and ditch the  ”inconvenience”  that they regard international football at the quickest possible opportunity.  Representing your country should be the ultimate honour for any sportsman.   With an attitude like Ian Harte’s that ethos will continue.

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