If Ireland are awarded a penalty against Moldova on Friday night, David Meyler would have no qualms about putting himself on the spot.
With Jon Walters and Robbie Brady out of the game, Martin O’Neill will have a decision to make on who should take spot kicks and, assuming Meyler’s impressive performance against Serbia earns him another start, he is bound to feature prominently in the manager’s thoughts.
When Hull’s Abel Hernandez went off injured last month, Meyler came off the bench and, in the absence of a designated penalty taker, stepped up to convert from the spot in the Tigers’ 3-2 defeat to Wolves.
On Saturday, he repeated the feat in Hull’s 6-1 thrashing of Birmingham, further vindication of his exceptionally confident view of penalty taking.
“Look, I think it’s nearly like a free goal in the sense that if you do everything correctly you can’t really miss,” he says.
“I don’t know why so many are missed. I look at it, like, I put the ball down, 12 yards out, I pick my side and I don’t change my mind. If you strike it well enough, the keeper shouldn’t get there. It’s practice and just being confident striking a ball.
“Obviously, there are different occasions. If you’re talking a Champions League final and it goes to a penalty shootout that’s a little bit different. It’s a big occasion and if you miss you could end up costing your whole team. But, you know, if you do everything right I think you should score.”
Hence, he wouldn’t be at all fazed if asked to take on the responsibility for his country.
“I’d imagine the manager would have a fair idea of who he’d want to take a penalty,” he notes. “At club level, I could probably take the ball and say ‘I’m taking it’. Look, we’re talking hypothetically but if I had to take a penalty, I’d take a penalty.”
Meyler says the Irish players were “gutted” by the defeat to Serbia but he doesn’t share the broader mood of doom and gloom as the team goes into its final two group games seeking to make up for all the ground lost in 2017.
"You talk about doom and gloom, but you guys in the press created the doom and gloom,” he contends. “If you’d said to me that we’d have two games to go — Moldova at home and Wales away — to give ourselves the best opportunity to qualify for the World Cup, are you telling me you wouldn’t take it?"
Not at the end of 2016 when Ireland topped the group, no.
"Yeah, of course, but you’ve got to understand that every game is different and every game is going to be tough. It’s a lot of games.
"We’re Ireland in the sense that we are not going to walk through a group. We’ve got Georgia, Austria, Serbia and Wales — that’s four good teams. That’s no disrespect to Moldova but they’re not the same as the other sides; any one of us could beat any other on any given day.
"And you look at Austria and how disappointing they have been in terms of the calibre of country that they are.
“We’ve got two games left. We’re far from out of this. Our destiny will be in our own hands if we beat Moldova and then go to Wales and give ourselves a great chance of qualifying. I still believe that we’ll go to Russia."
Injury worry Gareth Bale apart, Meyler insists there’s little or nothing to separate Ireland and Wales on the pitch.
“They’ve got a world-class player, he’s probably in the top five players in the world but he’s probably an exception. The rest, on paper, you could cut it through the middle.
"I did say we need to take care of Friday first but once it comes to it (in Cardiff), it’s just us v them. Yeah, they’ve got an exceptional player. But we’ve played against teams with exceptional players before and got results. Look at the Germany team. We’ve proved we can get results.”
Meanwhile, away from the real stuff, David Meyler continues to make a name for himself as a FIFA gamer whose exploits now command a quarter of a million YouTube followers.
“I know there are some clubs have professional FIFA players playing for them,” he says. “Hull have actually said out loud, ‘we don’t need to get one of those, we can use you’. There was a tournament on a few months ago and a young fella won £200,000, just from playing FIFA. He is probably the best in the world.
“I have played him, yeah. People say how did you do against him and they expect him to beat you 8-0. It was 3-1. But he wiped the floor with me. You play computer games, it’s a wee bit different.”
David Meyler was speaking at the launch of EA Sports FIFA 18. The match programme for Ireland v Moldova contains details of a chance to win a copy and take on the Irish international face to face.
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