Irish eyes are smiling

Tuesday 7 May 2002

With Eddie Lewis getting his call-up to the USA World-Cup squad last week, the second member of Fulham's squad got the nod when Steve Finnan's selection for the Republic of Ireland team was announced on Tuesday.

Fresh from a hard training session, and unsure at first as to whether he really had been called-up or was victim to yet another elaborate wind-up, Finnan spoke about what the news means to him.

"It feels good, obviously, now the squad has been announced," he said, "I've not seen the full list, but I've just been told I'm on it, so I'm looking forward to meeting up now with the other players.

"All along you hope that you're going to be involved, and people say that you're going to go, but until it's actually announced and you see your name down there, you're never really sure. But now, I can relax a little bit and really start looking forward to it.

"I think the news will really start to sink in over the next few days. I've been involved in the Irish set-up for the last couple of years and I've played in all the recent games, and you always have half an eye on the World Cup. So I have been thinking about it, without letting myself get too carried away, but it's nice to be settled now.

"I've haven't got the details of our itinerary yet. I think we're meeting up next Monday or Tuesday, and we're playing in Niall Quinn's testimonial on Tuesday at Sunderland. Then we've got a game against Nigeria on the 16th May, and then I expect we'll be heading off.

"But it's a fantastic feeling. I still find it hard to believe that's it really happening, but it's a great honour for me and I'm really, really looking forward to it."

The World Cup is going to be a fantastic occasion, and to have Fulham's elegant full-back gracing the world stage will bring added pleasure to Whites' fans everywhere. On behalf of them, Fulham Today would like to wish Steve Finnan the very best of luck.