Glenn Whelan may be one of the most experienced campaigners in the current Irish squad, but the 35-year-old is under no illusions as to how massive an occasion tomorrow night will be for the Boys in Green.
Ireland’s task on paper is simple; beat Denmark at the Aviva Stadium and book a place in next summer’s Euro 2020 finals.
The task on the pitch however, will be much more challenging.
Mick McCarthy’s side have failed to defeat the Danes in their last five games, with the 5-1 World Cup playoff defeat two years ago still the standout result.
The two sides are very familiar with one another, with the Danish players famously disliking the Irish style of play over the past few years, but despite Whelan conceding the nations are probably sick of each other, he feels the Boys in Green can use the last fives games as motivation for Monday.
“I think both nations are probably getting a little bit sick of each other,” he began.
“We’ve played them five times and we haven’t got the win. That’s our motivation, there we go, he’s brought it up, let’s use that. We haven’t beaten them in five games or whatever it is, so why not tomorrow night?
“We’ll be using everything we can. The 5-1 defeat, not beating them, whatever it may be. We’re going out because no one gave us a chance to be here and we’re one game away from qualifying, so we need to use that.”
This time 12 months ago, Whelan had thought he had played his final game for his country, as Ireland drew with Northern Ireland in a friendly in Dublin.
Whelan though, was brought back into the Irish fold by McCarthy and has been one of Ireland’s best midfielders throughout the qualifying campaign.
The Hearts midfielder has experienced plenty of massive games during his 90 caps, and Whelan believes that Monday could be another special occasion.
“We keep saying it but this is what we want, this is why we’re here. This is why we rock up for friendlies when you could be on the beach having four or five days off.
“This is why you play for your country to play in these games. There are kids out there who are dreaming of playing for Ireland. Both of us were like that at one stage. I think it’s a little bit different for me because I’m a little bit older than Shane.
“It could be the last big night for me and I’m going to cherish it and enjoy it as much as I can even though it’s a big game.”
Whelan continued by explaining how proud he is to have gotten a “second bite of the cherry” after his previous premature retirement and that he will cherish tomorrow night’s game as much as he can.
“For me to get a second bite at the cherry as it is. It was taken away from me.
“I was never going to play for my country again and now I’ll please God get picked tomorrow to play in possibly one of the biggest games that Ireland have played in.
“For me I’m going to cherish it, take it onboard, although it’s nerve-wracking and it’ll be tight, I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can.”