Last week, France were crowned Star Sixes champions in London. The six-a-side indoor competition saw legends of their national teams clash in a tournament full of nostalgia and entertainment. However, there was one surprising absentee from the teams on show.
The Republic of Ireland were not included in the twelve-team tournament, which is surprising considering the strength of the team that could be fielded. Many of the players on show are recently retired but the majority were around during the noughties, a time when Ireland underachieved but had a fantastic collection of players.
Ten players are permitted in the squad with six starting each game. The likes of Steven Gerrard, Roberto Carlos, Allesandro Del Piero and Jay-Jay Okocha lined out for their countries and the following team could certainly mount a challenge for the (old) Boys in Green.
Most of the stars on show are very recently retired, hence we have gone for players who have retired since 2010, although this is not a formal requirement.
1. Shay Given
Still not technically retired but still an ex-international, which would qualify him. One of the best goalkeepers to ever play in the Premier League and for his country in a lengthy career.
2. Kevin Kilbane
Kilbane retired in 2012 after a career which spanned 17 years. One of the most passionate players to represent Ireland and for a short time was the Boys in Green’s most capped player.
3. Richard Dunne
Retired from Ireland duty in 2013 and from the domestic game in 2015. Will certainly still be fresh and a difficult man to beat on the smaller pitch.
4. Ian Harte
This was a toss up between Harte and Steve Finnan but having only retired two years ago, after guiding Bournemouth to the Premier League, he’s certainly the fresher option. His terrific left boot would serve the sixes well.
5. Andy Reid
Still only 34, Andy Reid is a real ‘what could have been’ player for Ireland. Tremendous technical ability and a low centre of gravity, the ex-Sunderland man would thrive on the Star Sixes stage.
6.Roy Keane (Captain)
The one post-2010 retiree in the squad who could not be ignored. Looks ready to go back into battle on the sidelines when kitted out in his shorts, knee-high socks and boots.
7. Steven Reid
Reid had an injury-plagued international career but never put a foot wrong when selected. Could probably score from anywhere on the Star Sixes pitch with his unnaturally powerful shot.
8. Damien Duff
Another relatively recent retiree, Duff is a must in this selection and would enjoy coming head-to-head with the several ex-teammates already on show.
9. Clinton Morrison
Togging out occasionally as a player coach in non-league, Morrison would still have an eye for goal and would love to pull on the green jersey again. The 38-year-old played his last game for Ireland at the tender age of 27 after amassing 36 caps and nine goals.
We may be infringing on the Star Sixes eligibility rules here, but we’ll include him anyway. Ireland’s record goalscorer would take the Star Sixes by storm and it is doubtful he has lost his famous finishing ability.
Republic Of Ireland Star Sixes Starting VI:
GK: Shay Given
DEF: Richard Dunne, Ian Harte
MID: Roy Keane (C), Damien Duff
FW: Robbie Keane
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena