David Meyler had to wait until U19 level to get his first Irish cap

Former Irish international explains why talented young players will get a chance if they're patient
David Meyler had to wait until U19 level to get his first Irish cap

Former Ireland midfielder David Meyler at the launch of the 2022 Spar FAI Primary School 5s Programme. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

FORMER Republic of Ireland International David Meyler believes that patience is key for any aspiring footballer. 

Meyler, who played for both Hull City and Sunderland in the Premier League, believes that players should not give up on their dream and spoke about himself as someone who had to be patient to get the breakthrough in their career.

“At 15, I was going over to England to every different club being promised the world. People are selling you a dream. I was never capped at U15, U16, U17, U18. 

"Eventually, I got called into the Irish U19 squad for their last international in March. I had to show great patience in those terms. I always felt that I was good enough to play underage. 

"Other people felt I wasn't, which is fair enough. But I think, ‘If you're good enough, you're good enough’. 

"Certainly nowadays with the amount of games people watch whether it be underage or older, people are watching games. People talk. You have to be patient. You have to stick it out. You have to improve. 

"So for any young boy or girl, it’s never the end of the road. We’ve seen examples of fellas at 20, 21 getting opportunities and then kicking on. We’ve seen that there recently with a host of League of Ireland players going over to Scotland. 

"There’s opportunities there, it’s just that you need to be patient. You need to keep working hard, and be honest with yourself by asking; ‘am I improving’, ‘am I getting better’, ‘what can I do to become better’? 

David Meyler on the ball for Ireland in 2014. Picture: INPHO/Cathal Noonan
David Meyler on the ball for Ireland in 2014. Picture: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

"There are the kind of things that if you give up on patience then you are throwing in the towel and you will get nowhere. Whereas if you stick with it; there will be an opportunity at some stage”.

Meyler, who took up a coaching role in 2019 as part of Colin O’Brien’s Irish U17 coaching staff, is enjoying his new experience and is surprised by what the role entails.

“I’m really enjoying it. It’s something totally different than what I expected it to be, in terms of the organisation, the planning, the structure. We sit down and we give them a lot of feedback and I think certainly the young lads buy into it. 

I think back to my own time at that age, I probably wasn’t intrigued or interested in learning on how to improve, on how to get better. And certainly, these young boys are. 

"It’s something I am really enjoying. I’m very fortunate to be in the position. Working with Colin O’Brien, Ian Hill. Two fantastic coaches who I am learning a lot from, so I’m very fortunate that I’m in that position but it is something that I am enjoying.

“Qualifying for major tournaments has got to be the aim from senior team down to U17s, where it is the first year where it is competitive. 

EXPERIENCE

"You’re in it to win it. You want to qualify for these major tournaments. It’s about giving these young boys an experience. 

"If you look now at the senior team, a lot of players Stephen Kenny has brought them through. (Jason) Knight, (Andrew) Omobamidele, Darra O’Shea, Adam (Idah), Troy (Parrott), all of them featured for the U17s in major tournaments, in the Euros, and it gives them the idea of what tournament football is like, which can only benefit them and can only benefit Irish football in the long run. 

"There are a lot of fantastic young players coming through but they need to keep working hard, and applying themselves correctly and keep learning and keep moving, and please God; there will be another group of six or seven push through to the first team in the next two to three years.

“I think the infrastructure that the FAI have put in place is far better now than it was 15 years ago. I’ve seen firsthand the work that is done with the U15s, U16s, U17s, U18s and U19s. 

Adam Idah is a recent graduate from Ireland's underage system. 
Adam Idah is a recent graduate from Ireland's underage system. 

"It’s an incredible amount of work and it’s an incredible amount of detail. The FAI have also got involved with schoolboys football and obviously, they have got the national league. 

"That is helping these young boys kick on at a younger age and improve and develop. That’s massive to why we are seeing a host of young lads get into the senior team.”

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