As Ireland prepare to take on Italy, bwfc.co.uk profile a former Wanderer who turned out for the Boys in Green in their last major tournament appearance at Euro 2012
With Republic of Ireland facing Italy in their final Euro 2016 group game later today, bwfc.co.uk profile a former Wanderer who has bad memories of the last time the two nations clashed at the European Championships back in 2012.
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REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (2008-2012)
35 CAPS 3 GOALS
European Championships: 1 (EURO 2012)
Best Stage Reached: GROUP STAGES
Tournament Appearances: 3
Tournament Goals: 0
Ireland’s Player of the Year in 2012, it would offer small consolation to Keith Andrews following Giovanni Trappatoni’s side’s struggles in Poland and Ukraine.
Having started his career with Wolverhampton Wanderers, the midfielder was handed his international debut against Poland in November 2008, just a couple of months after joining Blackburn Rovers.
Marking the occasion with a goal as Ireland fell to a 3-2 defeat, a maiden start and first competitive cap quickly followed against Georgia in a 2010 World Cup qualifier, with the midfielder unfortunate to have a goal disallowed as the Boys in Green recorded a 2-1 victory.
Missing just one of Ireland’s remaining qualifiers, he lasted the distance in both play-off legs against France as Ireland cruelly missed out on a World Cup place courtesy of Thierry Henry’s infamous handball.
After injury ruled him out of the opening of the Boys in Green’s Euro 2012 qualification campaign, Andrews returned for clashes against Northern Ireland and Scotland as they lifted the Nations Cup in 2011.
Scoring his second international goal in a friendly victory over four-time World Champions Italy, he completed 90 minutes in Ireland’s final five remaining Euro qualifiers as they set up a play-off tie against Estonia.
Clinching their place at Euro 2012 in style, Andrews scored one and created another in their 4-0 first leg victory in Tallinn, before helping Ireland see out the job with a 1-1 draw at the Aviva Stadium.
Reaching their first finals for ten years since the 2002 World Cup, the odds were always against Ireland after they were drawn in a group with Croatia, eventual runners-up Italy and eventual winners Spain.
A point proven as they suffered a 3-1 defeat in their opening match against their ‘easiest’ opponents Croatia – a match which left Andrews personally rueing many missed opportunities and cursing the woodwork.
Suffering a heavy 4-0 defeat against reigning World Champions Spain in their second match, Ireland’s exit was already sealed heading into their final group game against Italy.
Having completed 90 minutes in both of Ireland’s opening two matches, Andrews was denied ever-present status as he was sent off late on as further misery was compiled on the Boys in Green courtesy of a 2-0 defeat in their last game against Italy.
Widely recognised as the Irish’s best performer at Euro 2012, he signed for Wanderers following the tournament before winning further caps against Germany and Faroe Islands and representing his country for the final time against Greece in November 2012.
After spending the 2013/14 season on loan at Brighton & Hove Albion, he enjoyed further temporary stints with Watford and former club MK Dons last season – helping the latter win promotion to the Championship for the first time in the club’s history.
However, having turned his attention to coaching during his time back at Stadium mk, Andrews officially announced his retirement at the end of the 2014/15 season, taking over as first team coach at MK Dons before leaving the club earlier this summer.
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