Mick Konstantin, a school teacher from Kildare answered #TheCallUp last year, travelling to Euro 2016. His song, Taking Over France, caught the mood of a nation. This is the story of one of the sounds of last summer.
“Stand up for the Boys in Green! Olé Olé and a chance to dream, we’re heading to the Euros, we’re taking over France, we might get hammered but we’ll take the feckin’ chance!”
The now eternal lyrics capture the mood of a nation, not only heading into last summer’s European Championships, but indeed any big tie.
It is a message of pride and hope, and a sentiment which Mick Konstantin has held since attending his first Ireland game.
That came as the Boys in Green met Liverpool in a testimonial game at the old Lansdowne Road. He went along with his father, and was immediately hooked. Home games became not only a past-time, but a habit for Mick.
From Lansdowne Road to Croke Park, and back to the Aviva Stadium, his love for the team grew and grew. He had answered #TheCallUp, and his journey was only getting started.
This passion stuck with him through thick and thin, until Ireland qualified for Euro 2016. It was his first time travelling abroad for an Ireland game. All his mates were heading along. It was time he answered #TheCallUp, and made the journey to France.
It was a journey thousands of others were making. The Whatsapp groups were hopping since the draw was made. “How are we getting to Paris?” “Any sign of tickets?” It was 2016’s version of agreeing that Joxer was the man to drive the van.
“The first game against Sweden was something special; a dream come true.
“I remember us all walking out of the metro station at Saint-Denis. Before we turned the corner, we could hear the fans. When we saw the crowd, it was something else. In plain sight, thousands upon thousands of fans clad in green. An entire country had come together.”
As the Green Army moved on to Bordeaux for the Belgium game, Konstantin had a special weapon in his arsenal.
A sing-song the day before the match led to Mick belting out his number, and what a song it was!
“I brought a ukelele over for the craic to sing a few songs. I had written Taking Over France. I came across the guys from Pundit Arena, and we recorded the song.
“It was crazy. Within an hour almost the whole country had seen it. I was getting texts off everyone. But I still didn’t have a ticket for the game!”
The video of Mick surrounded by the lads with whom he had travelled to France with encapsulated the craic, the camaraderie and the passion associated with following Ireland.
It was not in a studio. It was amongst the fans. Not only did the video feature a song, but also the lifestyle the Green Army enjoyed for those few weeks; on the streets, singing and having a good time.
With the song going viral within minutes, tickets soon came his way and he was on his way to the stadium.
Ireland created history on the field, and the following few days off the field will live with Mick forever.
“Home games are great, but the away trips are that bit more special, because everyone stays together. The fans unite abroad.”
Last summer’s escapades have given the team and fans, the world’s biggest squad a huge lift.
“I was at the Georgia game [Ireland’s first competitive home tie since the Euros]. There was a real buzz about the place!
“If we qualify for Russia, I would 100% travel. You don’t know when the next time we will qualify.
“Qualifying for Russia would mean the world to me. Going by the craic we had in France, it’d be mad for that to happen again. You don’t want to have to wait 20 years for the next one. I’m in my 20s, I mightn’t be in the position to go forever. That’s what I live for!
“It would be brilliant to keep that momentum going; being in the last competition and going to another one. It would be great for the country to be expecting to be in big competitions. It would be unreal.”
If Ireland get a positive result against Wales next week, the dream is very much alive.
We might even be lucky enough to be treated to another song!
To get to Russia we need more than a squad of 23. We need every Irish man, woman and child to answer #TheCallUp and join the biggest squad in the world.
As official sponsor to the Irish team, Three will be sharing the stories of what Irish football means to those who bleed green and have answered #TheCallUp.