IRELAND striker Adam Idah believes that it is vital that Ireland get off to a good start in their upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifying fixtures against Serbia and Luxembourg.
Idah, who has represented Ireland at underage levels made his senior debut against Bulgaria last year and believes the big difference in senior international football is the unforgiving nature if countries do slip up in games.
Unfortunately, a hernia issue is set to keep the Cork man out of the squad.
“Making my debut for Ireland was crazy. I remember when I found out I was starting, how happy I was because I did not expect it at all. Even just to be in the squad was amazing,” Idah said.
“I could kind of tell I might be starting the day before in training by how we had shaped up but even then, I still didn’t think I’d be starting because I thought, ‘this is too good to be true’, and obviously then, when the team was named, I was over the moon.
“Obviously, since that game I’ve had a bit more attention and it’s brought more pressure, but every footballer has to deal with pressure.
“We haven’t had the best of starts, but it’s a whole new team, it’s a whole new system and I think if you were to watch the games, tactically we are doing well but obviously we just need to get that goal and start winning.
“I look forward to every game with Ireland and I think we have a really good chance in these qualifiers, and if we get off to a winning start, I think that we can really push on from there.
“The biggest step-up between underage and senior level is, you’re playing in major tournaments, everything is on the line.
“You’re playing against the best countries in the world. If you’re in the group stages and you lose one game, it’s going to be very difficult to recover. '
You just have to constantly win, there is just so much on the line in these games.
“At U21 level, you’re still playing the best teams in the world, you still have to try and win every game you can, but sometimes other countries do slip up when they aren’t expected to, similar to a league game, but at senior level, if you slip up then it’s much more difficult to progress.
“I find international level very defensive. If you go behind in a game, it’s so hard to get back into it.
“Whereas with a league game, teams can be more open and not as defensive when they go ahead but international football is very defensive.”
While results have not gone the way Iadh would have hoped at international level, things couldn’t be going better for the former College Corinthians player’s club Norwich, with the Canaries looking certain to make a return to the Premier League at the first attempt.
There were rumours that Idah could go out on loan, but that topic has never been discussed with Norwich manager Daniel Farke.
“We were disappointed when we got relegated but we got together as a group and said, ‘look there can’t be individuals in the team, if we want to get back into the Premier League, we must all come together’.
“In the changing room the team spirit is unbelievable, and it’s been like that throughout the season. Everyone’s ambition was to get back into the Premier League and we are doing quiet well so far.
In the Premier League, there is so much quality, the tactics side of it is so much better compared to the Championship.
“I think we could have had a chance in the Premier League last year, but it just wasn’t to be, but that was the first time playing at that level for some of us. I think we will be better equipped if we manage to get promoted again.
“There are some brilliant teams in the Premier League you have the best players from all over the world.
“Players that stood out for me were Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata. Mata was unbelievable, you just couldn’t get the ball off of him.
“When we played Manchester United away, his assist for Rashford was a joke, his passing awareness is ridiculous. You also have players like Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez.
“I think the hardest defender I came up against was in my Premier League debut against Harry Maguire. It was my first time starting in the Premier League, coming up against the most expensive defender in the world.
“People think these players aren’t good, but once you come up against him, you realise just how good he is. I hear people say, ‘he’s not good enough or so and so isn’t good enough’, but these are the best players in the world.
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs this year. I scored in the Championship, made my international debut but then got injured just before Christmas, I’m just trying to get back in the team and do the best I can to help the team.
“In pre-season, I was quite confident that I could work my way into the squad and if I had to go on loan then I would have, but that was never a discussion by the manager.
“I’m still young, learning the game, and I feel I just have to be more consistent with my performances."