Ipswich Town goalkeeper reveals Republic of Ireland dream

Stephen Henderson.

Stephen Henderson. - Credit: Archant

STEPHEN Henderson revealed pulling on the Republic of Ireland goalkeeping jersey would fulfil a boyhood ambition, but has insisted that Ipswich Town remains his priority.

The on-loan West Ham ‘keeper is currently fourth in the Irish pecking order behind Millwall’s David Forde, Sunderland’s second-choice stopper Kieren Westwood and Motherwell’s Darren Randolph.

Giovanni Trapattoni’s team face two crucial qualifiers later this month, away in Sweden and at home to Austria, as they bid to qualify for their first World Cup since 2002.

“It’s something I have always dreamed of doing and it would mean the world to me to represent my country as I went to the games as a young boy,” said Henderson.

“But right now, the most important thing is Ipswich Town. We are in a relegation battle and Ipswich is my main focus. Anything else would be a bonus.

“Hopefully I have a few years ahead of me to win my first cap.”

Hednerson, like so many other goalkeepers, has been thwarted from representing his country by veteran stopper Shay Given, currently number two behind Brad Guzan at Aston Villa.

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Given was a virtual ever-present until his retirement last year, accruing 125 caps and following in the footsteps of another legendary Irish goalkeeper, Pat Bonner, who won 80 caps during a 15-year international career.

“There was talk of him making a comeback recently and that nearly killed me,” joked Henderson.

“The position is probably up for grabs now though as no-one is established as the first choice at the moment.

“David Forde has the position at the moment and he is doing well but it is up to me to keep showing what I can do.”

He added: “Shay (Given) is a hero of mine and I was lucky enough to be in a squad with him last season. I froze a bit to be honest.

“I am sure if I worked with him now I would learn a few pointers off him. He is a great guy and one of my idols.”