Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood says his inclusion in the Republic of Ireland squad for this summer’s European Championships has offered him the perfect lift after the heartache of the Owls’ Play-Off Final defeat.
Westwood was one of the few Wednesday players to produce their true form at Wembley on Saturday as he and his team mates fell to a 1-0 defeat to Hull City.
A strong performance, which capped off another impressive season, appears to pushed Westwood ahead of David Forde in the pecking order for the Republic, this after playing no part in any of Martin O’Neill’s side’s qualifying games.
Westwood had often been left out of Irish squads, with O’Neill citing a series of minor injury concerns, which drew a question mark over the 31 year-old’s reliability.
However, the Republic of Ireland coach looks now to have cast aside those worries with Westwood to battle West Ham’s Darren Randolph and veteran Shay Given for a place in the starting XI when the Irish kick off their campaign against Sweden on June 13.
And given the weekend that Westwood had just endured at Wembley, a ticket on the plane has brought a huge boost.
“It was the pick-me-up I needed after Saturday. It was really emotional, really draining. I put everything in - we all did,” he said.
“Sheffield Wednesday isn’t just about me, it’s the whole squad, the staff, everything that we worked for for the whole season and put in so much effort. To fall like that, it’s hard to take.
“I remember talking to a few of the Derby lads last year and it was hard to take for them as well.
“No matter who you are - you could be the hardest, strongest man in the world - but to come that close is really heartbreaking, especially with all those fans there.
“We had over 40,000, I think.
“It was a great game to play in and I can always look back on my career and say I played in the richest game in football - £175million, maybe £200million.
“It’s a little feather in my cap, but we were beaten, which is an absolute killer.”