Colin Doyle admits he feared second Ireland call would never come

Given that his one and only senior Irish cap came in a friendly against Ecuador in the United States back in 2007 when Steve Staunton was still the manager, it’s hardly a surprise to learn that Bradford City goalkeeper Colin Doyle figured his chances of the long-awaited sequel to what he calls “the proudest moment of my career” had become vanishingly small, especially when he noted in recent times that other, newer contenders appeared to be ahead of him the pecking order.

“There were times when I was looking at squads and the likes of Gary Rogers of Dundalk was in it, and then the last one where the two U21 keepers were called in,” says the Cork native.

“I was playing well enough in League One in England, third in the league, so I thought I would get a chance, you know what I mean? So I thought maybe it is (over) but then this squad came around and I’m back in it.”

The unorthodox manner in which he found out about his recall only added to his delight.

“The club didn’t actually tell me,” he reveals. “When they released the provisional squad, the club got it and then the main squad was released in the press. They didn’t realise and didn’t tell me.

“It was actually my mate that texted me and said ‘congratulations’, with a picture of an Irish flag.

“I sort of put two and two together and went on the FAI Twitter or whatever it was to check, and saw my name.

“I had to check twice if it was me. Then I got a phone call on Sunday morning to say I’d be in the squad and flights would be booked.

“I’m thrilled to be involved. It’s what you want, and as long as I’m playing well every week, if we qualified (for the World Cup) then it would be a dream to go there.”

A long-time resident of Birmingham City, where he roomed for a couple of seasons with Darren Randolph, the towering Corkman finally left St Andrews after 12 years and a number of loan moves, for Blackpool in 2015 and then, last summer, for Bradford — the latter transfer for the singularly memorable fee of precisely £1.

“I had it in my contract I could go on a free if we got relegated but because I signed a two-year contract the FA wouldn’t allow it,” he explains.

“It was a technicality and just had to be done to get around it.”

But, hey, did he get his cut? “Yeah, I got my 10%,” he grins.

After injuries curtailed his involvement at Blackpool, he feels rejuvenated by his move to promotion-chasing Bradford, a feeling clearly shared by Ireland’s goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh who went to watch him play for the League One side and was suitably impressed.

“Coming to the end of my time at Birmingham, I wasn’t enjoying it,” Doyle reflects.

“I was going training every day and playing the odd cup game here and there. But I knew when I was going to Blackpool I was going to be number one and it was the same going to Bradford.

“All I want to do is play games. In hindsight, I probably could have left Birmingham a little earlier in my career but for family reasons it was difficult at the time.”

Colin is referring here to a traumatic period for his family when he and wife Becky’s then six-week-old son Liam contracted meningitis.

Happily, Liam, now six years old, and a little brother to Harry and Eva, pulled through.

“He’s good now,” his dad smiles.

“He had meningitis a couple of times and he has side-effects like epilepsy from it, but if you look at him he looks like any other child. But no, he’s good.

“It’s been good this last year. Last year at Blackpool we stayed living in Birmingham. But the wife and kids have done well this time. We have all moved up to Bradford and it’s a bit easier.”

The Corkman has an additional and unusual reason to recall the date of his wedding to Becky back in 2009 — it happened to coincide with his last Irish call-up.

“It was for the play-off against France, the Henry handball,” he smiles. “(Goalkeeping coach) Alan Kelly called me up because Westy (Keiren Werstwood) had pulled out with an injury.

“I was actually getting married on the Friday so when he called me I was, like: ‘I’m actually getting married, Al’.

“I was going to come in but at the time he just said: ‘Nah, leave it’. So that was my last call-up.”

After all that’s gone before in his life and career, you can fully understand why Doyle says he is savouring this moment. And, at 31, he hopes there are plenty more to come for club and country.

“You only have to look at Shay Given,” he says.

“He’s on the bench at Stoke and he’s 40. As long as you are healthy and are still able to do it, you want to play as long as you can. That’s what I certainly want to do.”



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