Cox not taking his position for granted


REPUBLIC OF IRELAND v GREECE:His career path to date – Reading, Brentford (on loan), Northampton (on loan), Swindon, West Brom and, now, Nottingham Forest – probably helps explains why Simon Cox, still a mere 25, is reluctant to ever take anything for granted, at club or international level, or grumble about being played out of position, on occasion.

The path hasn’t, then, always been smooth or without its disappointments, not least when Steve Clarke, successor to England manager Roy Hodgson at West Brom, called him at the end of last season and advised him to move on.

“He was very honest with me, he turned around and said ‘listen, you’re probably not going to play that much, it’s best for you to leave and go and play some football, go and score goals’. It was up there with the biggest decision I have ever had to make in football, leaving a club I was fully happy to be at.”

But, life at Forest?

“Loving it, absolutely loving it,” he says. “The reason I chose to leave was to go and play as a striker and to score goals, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time so far.”

Of course, it helped that he scored that goal against Birmingham in September, one that Lionel Messi wouldn’t have sniffed at, his first-time control of a long ball and his finish with his second touch just a little bit sublime. Since starring on YouTube, needless to say.

For Ireland, though, much of his time has been spent in a largely unfamiliar wide role in midfield, and although he concedes he hasn’t been altogether comfortable in the position, he strikes you as the kind of fella who so appreciates his international involvement, he’d play in goal if requested by Giovanni Trapattoni.

“It’s been interesting when I play out wide, I try and get the defensive duties right first, instead of doing the attacking side because I don’t want to be labelled with ‘he only goes one way, he can’t defend’. Then I try and get in to the game and get the attacking side done.”

Against Germany?

“Well, obviously that was a lot harder. It was tough, probably one of the toughest games I have ever been involved in, up there with the Spain game (at Euro 2012). Their interchanges are unbelievable, all very comfy and accomplished on the ball, move it quickly. When you feel like you’re getting close you’re never really that close at all. It was tough, but we took the hit on the chin and we had to because we were the players out there. We just had to move forward and we did with a great response against the Faroes.”

“And we had to move on quite quickly because it was a must-win game in the Faroes, we had to come together as a squad. Which we did. We just turned around to each other and said, ‘listen, it was a bad day, but we have to come out the other side as a stronger unit and I felt we did that against the Faroes.

“And, in my opinion, I don’t think we got the right amount of column inches in terms of plaudits for that win, because it was all about the manager’s future.”

He’s in the starting line-up for tonight’s game against Greece, another indication of the faith Trapattoni has shown in him.

“And we want to put in a performance for the supporters,” he says. “We would take 1-0, but we’d like them to see a few goals in the game, to regain their faith. Germany was a game we have to put behind us, it was a bad defeat, yes. But let’s move on.”

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