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Brady's Ireland out to frazzle France

"We've turned over some big-name teams," winger Robbie Brady told EURO2016.com, hoping the Republic of Ireland can overcome the "huge challenge" of ousting France.

Ireland's Robbie Brady speaks to EURO2016.com
Ireland's Robbie Brady speaks to EURO2016.com ©UEFA.com

Still visibly stunned by the effects of the sonic boom that swept through the Stade Pierre Mauroy shortly after scoring the winning goal for the Republic of Ireland against Italy, Robbie Brady stood rigid, staring into television cameras with the wide-eyed expression of an incredulous lottery winner.

With understandable difficulty, the 24-year-old sought the appropriate phrases to explain the significance of his 85th-minute goal, one that took his country into the knockout stages of a EURO for the first time. He spoke of fulfilling dreams and used words like "unbelievable", and "incredible", but several days would pass before the Dubliner could fully appreciate the level of his achievement.

In a small room behind the stand of Ireland's training ground in Versailles, a makeshift interview studio has been set up. While a producer and his cameraman flick through slick Polaroid photos of Ireland's Group E win over the Italians, Brady – now a sporting icon in Ireland – slips into the room so quietly, he almost goes unnoticed. "Alright?" he says, acknowledging those around him.

Brady: Team sprit has been key to Irish success

Football players are often reluctant interviewees and I quickly get the feeling that, if given the choice between answering my questions or joining his Ireland team-mates for a game of pool in the players' lounge, Brady would already be chalking his cue. The interview chair is not where the Dubliner does his real talking, nor is it where he feels at home or expresses himself most passionately; that takes place on the pitch.

However, Brady is polite and forthcoming and, overcoming his camera-shyness, offers his thoughts on the next challenge facing the Boys in Green, namely a knockout encounter against hosts France. "We've had some big results [over the years] and we've turned over some big-name teams and that's what we need to do on Sunday against such a big outfit," he says. "We'll be doing our homework and getting ourselves ready, but [the Italy win] gives us good confidence going into this game.

"We've created a massive team spirit around the place, and everyone wants to do well for each other," Brady continues. "Saying it is one thing, but we've been going out and scoring I don't know how many last-minute winners and equalisers in the qualifying stage and now into the tournament proper. It's a massive game on Sunday, but we'll be going in with clear minds. It's a huge challenge but we'll make sure we're fully prepared and ready to go."