Leon Best has finally been called up by Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, for the vital Euro 2012 play-off games against Estonia.
Leon Best – Alan Pardew been a big help
Leon has not been in the Ireland squad for a while, and the Italian manager has recently said he just doesn’t work hard enough during games.
But Alan Pardew has said that while that may have been true, Leon now works very hard for the Newcastle side, so Trapattoni has called him for the Euro 2012 play-off against Estonia in place of the injured Shane Long.
The West Bromwich Albion striker was initially included, but he’s supposed to be out for up top six weeks with a knee injury.
Leon’s now in the initial 26-man party for the two games to decide who goes to the European Championships next summer in Poland and the Ukraine.
Captain Robbie Keane, Kevin Doyle, Shane Long, Simon Cox and Jon Walters were the strikers called up, but of course Leon is now better than a few of those players.
Leon Best, who is almost certain to again start alongside Demba Ba in Newcastle’s important home game against Everton, will join the squad next week when it assembles in Dublin.
When Leon Best was given the news yesterday he had this to say:
“I’m over the moon and absolutely delighted to be in the Ireland squad again.” “It has been a long time coming and I’ve been waiting patiently.”
“The gaffer Alan Pardew has helped me, and playing in a winning team cannot have done me any harm either.”
“Trapattoni came to watch me at Wolves and must have been happy with what he saw. I’ve been working hard this season and am really pleased to be called up.”
While it’s good that Leon has been called up for the squad, we’ll have to wait and see if he gets any playing time in the two legged tie, and of course how he performs in training will have a lot to do with that.
Leon has scored 9 goals in 22 Premier League appearances for Newcastle United in 2011, and that’s a good record in the world’s top football league, that few other Irish strikers can match.