SO how much does it mean to score a goal for your country?
Obviously an awful lot to the player and his team-mates, to judge by Keith Fahey’s almost shell-shocked reaction and the delight of his colleagues when the Birmingham City man struck the match-winner in Armenia on Friday.
But the Dublin native only began to appreciate the wider impact of what he’d done when, after the game, his phone began to bleep incessantly.
“It was brilliant, I must have got about a 100 texts,” he said. “People that I haven’t spoken to in a couple of years have been texting. It was a great feeling for my family. They are so proud.”
He also admits that the moment was an especially emotional one for him, as his thoughts turned to his late father, a man who’d exerted a deep and abiding influence on his son’s life and career.
“I had a chat with him before I went over to Armenia the other night,” said Fahey quietly. “I talk to him regularly and I’m sure he’s with me at the moment.”
Once back on home soil, the Dubliner was granted permission for a brief leave of absence from the Irish camp on Saturday, to attend the wedding of his cousin Monique at Finnstown House.
“My dad’s brothers were there and everyone was delighted,” he said. “I got a great round of applause and she was delighted, and it was great to be able to congratulate them.”
And will the Yerevan shirt be framed? “Yes, it will be,” he said smiling. “I’d framed the Argentina one, but we might have to jig things around and move that one to make way for the one I wore when I scored my first goal.”
Success for the former St Pats man has come comparatively late and, at one stage, having failed in his initial bid to make it England, seemed like it might never come at all.
Consequently, he relishes these precious moments all the more.
“I’d say so,” he reflects. “When I was younger I didn’t see the bigger picture, I didn’t see how good things could be. I went away when I was 15, and when I had been playing football for my local side Cherry Orchard, I had been playing for fun. Then all of a sudden it’s, ‘you’re not running fast enough, you’re not doing this, you’re not doing that’. I didn’t enjoy it.”
Having graduated from being a trainee at Arsenal and then failing to settle at Aston Villa, Fahey returned to Ireland in 2003 and, over the course of two spells at Richmond Park came to be regarded as the most outstanding creative talent in the League of Ireland.
Second time around, therefore, he was determined to give it everything when Birmingham City came a-calling two years ago.
“The League of Ireland was very good to me,” he says. “I think everyone down at Pat’s, the fans, all the players and staff were very good to me. The PFAI, everyone, they looked after me in a sense. It got me back enjoying my football, and that was the main thing. I’d seen a few players go away and that kind of hurt me a bit because I thought, ‘I’m a better player than them’.
“And I think in the last season with Pat’s I just thought, ‘right, I’m going to have a good season’ because a couple of my close friends were telling me to look at something else, apart from football. So I said, ‘right, I’ll give it one more bash.’ And luckily enough, I got another shout.”
Luckily for Ireland too. And now all the shouting is for him. As he was in the Republican Stadium in Yerevan on Friday, Keith Fahey is finally the right man in the right place at the right time.
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