For proof that Giovanni Trapattoni moves in mysterious ways, look no further than Paul Green.
Originally left out of the Euro 2012 squad, he was the late call-up who actually went on to get game time in the tournament — against Spain — ahead of a certain Darron Gibson.
And, after an even later call-up for the recent friendly against Poland — to replace the injured David Meyler — he put in such an impressive second half performance at the Aviva Stadium that he is now firmly back in mix for Friday’s meeting Sweden.
“It’s crazy the way it comes about,” he agrees with a smile. “After the late call-up against Poland I literally trained for 15 minutes because my plane was delayed and then I got 45 minutes in the game. It was the same with the Euros — I got called up when Keith Fahey got injured. He (Trapattoni) seems to stay with me and I do appreciate it when he brings me into the squad.”
The Leeds man, it’s fair to say, is not a fans’ favourite in the green shirt and has also shipped more than his fair share of criticism from the pundits. But the affable Green is not about to let the flak get him down.
“I thought I did well against Poland but everyone is allowed their opinion. There are already two quality midfielders in there in James McCarthy and Glenn Whelan. Being in the Premier League is the big thing. They are playing week, in week out against quality players, top professionals, so it would be hard for anyone else to get in the starting line up. But footballers are thick-skinned anyway, there’s not many that don’t get stick some times. Even the best in the world just have to take it on the chin.”
Leeds United’s promotion hopes might have taken a hit in recent weeks but Green hopes manager Neil Warnock — who has threatened to retire at the end of the season — stays at Elland Road
“It’s a massive club and the fans want it back where they feel it belongs, in the Premier League,” he says. “It has been a long time coming and for one reason or another it has just not happened. Neil got his team together and we have been there and thereabouts all season but the last couple of weeks have killed us, conceding in the last couple of minutes for draws which, if they had been wins, would mean we would be right up there.
“When I signed, he (Warnock) was saying this could be his final season if we didn’t get promoted but a few of the lads played under him at Sheffield United and they said he has been saying that for years about retiring. Maybe this year he has put pressure on himself to retire. I would be gutted if he does go because he is probably one of the best managers I have worked under. He has definitely still got the passion and desire for the game. and that is why I can’t see why he would want to retire. He has got many sides promoted and his man-management skills are second to none.”
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