8 years on from the game which effectively secured Irelands place at Euro 2012 with a 4-0 first leg win in Tallinn against Estonia we look back at the men who started that game to see what they have been up to since. A Robbie Keane double along with strikes from Keith Andrews and Jon Walters got us through that night leaving Estonia with little to play for on a trip to a carnival atmosphere at the Aviva stadium.
Goalkeeper: Shay Given
One of Irelands most capped players and a great premier league keeper for well over a decade the number one shirt was very much Givens in the lead up to Euro 2012 and the foreseeable future after it. Given went on to play in a Fa Cup final with Aston Villa in 2015 before a move to Stoke City were his appearances were limited and he retired at the age of 41. He finished with 134 caps for his country and a lasting legacy as one of the premier leagues most consistent goalkeepers. He is currently working as a goalkeeping coach under Philip Cocu at Derby County.
Right Back: Stephen Kelly
Stephen Kelly may not be spoke about as one of Irelands great players, but he was certainly a good servant on the international stage. An international career spanning 8 years from 2006 to 2014 and 39 caps Kelly hung up the boots at Rotherham United in 2017 following spells at Fulham and Reading in recent years. Kelly has not worked in coaching or done much media work following his retirement.
Centre Back: Sean St Ledger
A man who will always be remembered for that goal against then world champions Italy at Croke Park Ledgers international career may have been short, but he is remembered favourably by most Irish fans. Following this playoff, he scored another goal on the big stage against Croatia at the Euros and his Ireland career ended in 2013. Ledger went on to play in America for the likes of Orlando and Colorado before returning to England to play in non-league first Solihull Moors and then finally for Guiseley were, he hung up his boots at the age of 33. He now works as a scout for his old club Leicester City.
Centre Back: Richard Dunne
Perhaps Ireland best centre back of the modern era Richard Dunne was nearing the end of his international career by the time the 2012 playoffs came around. He started all 3 of Irelands Euro 2012 fixtures and retired from international football the following year in 2013. Dunne signed for QPR in the same year where he led them to promotion in his first year and relegation in his last and retired in 2015. Dunne has since made various media appearances and at time worked as a spokesman for Man City.
Left Back: Stephen Ward
One of the few men in this XI still plying their trade and a 50 cap Ireland international Ward was a mainstay at Left back under Martin O’Neill and played in all of Irelands games at Euro 2012 and 3 of their 4 games at Euro 2016. Ward retired from International football officially in 2019. Since the playoff Ward has played for many years in the premier league for Burnley before a permanent move to Stoke City in 2019 now working under former Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill.
Right Mid: Damien Duff
Damien Duff will be noted as an Irish great of the modern era and this playoff would transpire to be one of his final games in a green shirt. Duff stepped away from the international stage following Euro 2012 and, on the club, level went on to play for Melbourne and Shamrock Rovers after leaving Fulham in 2014. Duff currently works as first team coach at Celtic and from April 2020 as Stephen Kenny’s Ireland assistant manager.
Centre Mid: Glenn Whelan
Here is a man who splits opinion amongst Irish fans possibly more than anyone else but what must be said is that Whelan is a great servant for Ireland. Whelan is of course still an Irish international starting in Mick McCarthy’s last qualifier against Denmark. Following a long spell at Stoke Whelan has played for Aston Villa, Hearts and now under Joey Barton at Fleetwood. While it may now be nearing the end Whelan’s international career will likely be remembered with fondness from most.
Centre Mid: Keith Andrews
One of Trapattonnis most regular players and earning all his caps under the Italian, Andrews symbolises that period of Irish football better than most. Irish player of the year in 2012 this coincided with his last appearance for his country as he left Blackburn Rovers going on to play for Bolton where he also had various loan spells before retiring in 2015. Andrews is now a prominent pundit along with becoming a first team coach under Stephen Kenny in 2020.
Left Mid: Aiden McGeady
This skilful winger is still a regular international. Under Martin O’Neill was when McGeady saw some of his best days in an Ireland shirt and played in all the Euro 2016 group games. Following this playoff McGeady left Moscow to join Everton and then Sunderland. McGeady currently plays at Charlton on loan from Sunderland and will be hopeful of playing for his country again under Stephen Kenny in the future.
Striker: Jon Walters
Roy Keane’s best friend and an Irish hero for many, Walters got a goal in this playoff but what he will be best remembered for in an Ireland shirt is his brace in the Euro 2016 playoff at home to Bosnia. At club level Walters went on to play for 7 years at Stoke city cementing himself as one of their premier league icons. In 2019 Walters hung up his boots while at Burnley largely due to an Achilles injury he had sustained. Walters now works as a pundit and frequently appears on Joe.
Striker: Robbie Keane
Perhaps the greatest ever to pull on the green shirt for what he achieved in it Robbie Keane unsurprisingly got a brace in this game on went on to make 146 caps for Ireland scoring 68 goals and hanging up his boots in 2017 against Oman capping of a tremendous career with a trademark goal. At club level Keane spent 5 years at La Galaxy before retiring at Indian side ATK. Keane now works as Jonathan Woodgate’s assistant at Middlesbrough following a spell coaching Ireland under Mick McCarthy.
So that’s the XI a few are still playing some are pundits and some are coaching at a high level but they will be remembered for that qualifying campaign and there achievement at an international level throughout their careers.