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17th Nov 2015

“It’s unbelievable. I can’t put it into words” – Unlikely hero Darren Randolph reflects on his rise to prominence

Euro hero

Mikey Stafford

Darren Randolph had the look of a very content man as he made his way out of the Aviva Stadium.

Could you blame him?

The man who started this qualifying campaign as third-choice goalkeeper behind David Forde and Keiren Westwood saw himself slip to fourth when Shay Given came out of retirement.

However a combination of injuries, loss of form and a conveniently-timed suspension for his clubmate Adrian have seen the West Ham stopper finish the campaign as the Republic of Ireland’s first choice goalkeeper.

It’s funny how things work out.

UEFA 2016 European Championship Play-Off 2nd Leg, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 16/11/2015 Republic of Ireland vs Bosnia-Herzegovina Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph gathers a late chance Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

“It’s unbelievable. I can’t put it into words. I wouldn’t have seen this coming when we started the group but I am not complaining,” said Randolph of his journey from bit-part squad member to qualifying hero.

It was his long ball that set up Shane Long for the winner against Germany and while he was beaten twice against Poland, he was solid in both legs of the play-off win over Bosnia.

Given’s first-half injury against the World Cup champions opened the door for Randolph, but had he not picked up three Premier League games for West Ham back in August it is likely Martin O’Neill would have turned to former number one Forde, who has lost his place at Millwall this season.

As it was, Randolph had impressed against Liverpool and Newcastle and took his chance with both hands (and a big right foot).

“I was just concentrating on my club. It’s a cliche but I was just concentrating on the next game and maybe that has helped me play here,” he said of his West Ham window of opportunity.


“The timing was perfect,” he admitted.

It was not just Randolph’s individual prospects that looked grim at the start of the summer. The draws at home to Scotland and Poland left Ireland adrift in fourth in Group D, but the Bray native believes confidence came back game-by-game before building into these two dominant performances against Bosnia.

“It’s not just these two games. Since we have been sitting in fourth… the games against Georgia, Gibraltar, Germany, Poland, these two games. We have shown we can play: the character, the mental toughness we have,” added Randolph.

“I don’t know if anyone would have seen us go from fourth place to qualifying. But with the results come confidence and then that bit of belief, and then slip-ups from other teams gives you that other bit of confidence and, we go out there and perform and anything is possible.”

Anything is possible. A nice attitude to take to France next summer. After the couple of months Randolph has had, who could blame him?