HULL CITY midfielder Stephen Quinn was thrilled to have a weight lifted off his shoulders when he finally made his first competitive start for the Republic of Ireland last month.
Now the 28-year-old hopes his story of patience and perseverance can be an inspiration to others looking to break into Martin O’Neill’s squad.
Quinn had to wait until June last year for his first senior cap, aged 27, and it was a further 15 months before he was handed his first recognised start, in the Euro 2016 qualifier against Georgia.
However, Quinn seized the chance and his performance in the 2-1 victory in Tbilisi has done wonders for the confidence of a player who almost quit the game following the death of both his parents in his early twenties.
“It’s great getting that first qualifying game under my belt,” said the former Sheffield United midfielder.
“I think everyone knows how much that meant to me with my parents’ passing. It was a proud moment for the family and me. I’d worked so hard to get there and I was 28 when I was getting my first qualifying game, so it was a hard road, it was a long road, but I never doubted myself.”
Quinn’s story is motivation for any player frustrated at being overlooked at international level, and the Hull man offered words of encouragement for others in that situation.
He said: “You can never give up on it. There’s plenty of lads that would give an arm and a leg to put the green jersey on, so you just have to dig deep and keep going.
“The chance will come if you just keep plugging away and working hard on your game.”
The win in Georgia, courtesy of two goals from Aiden McGeady, set Ireland up nicely for this month’s qualifying double-header.
O’Neill’s men are at home to UEFA’s newest members Gibraltar tomorrow before taking on world champions Germany next Tuesday.