David Meyler on his Fifa followers and World Cup qualifiers
Hull midfielder has 250,000 people following him on YouTube to watch Fifa 18 exploits
David Meyler of Hull City scores from the penalty spot against Birmingham City. Photograph: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images
Having started the game against Serbia ahead of both Glenn Whelan and Harry Arter, David Meyler looks well-placed to feature in the Ireland team to face Moldova this Friday although the 28-year-old is taking nothing for granted. He knows better than that at this stage.
His performance at right-back in Germany three years ago earned him huge praise at the time but a month later in Glasgow he was left on the bench. He contributed, he says himself, whenever he was asked to over the course of the last qualifying campaign. But, having helped the team to France, he did not get a minute’s football at the finals. Still, he insists he has no complaints.
“I respect the manager and he made a decision on what team he wanted to play. I stand by that.”
O’Neill faces the usual array of big decisions this week although with a midfielder or two absent, Meyler surely has a decent case to make for inclusion. There has, he acknowledges, been a fair bit of football played since Serbia but his form at Hull has helped to ensure he has been playing a lot himself.
Better still, his penalty against Birmingham over the weekend was his third goal of the Championship campaign, something that may well stand to him as O’Neill weighs up his starting line-up without either Jon Walters or Robbie Brady.
“Look, I think it’s nearly like a free goal in the sense that if you do everything correctly you can’t really miss,” he says of his recent run – two from two – as the club’s spot-kick taker and without any fear, it seems, that he might be showing two fingers to fate.
“I don’t know why so many are missed,” he says when asked about it. “I look at it like, I put the ball down, ten yards out. I pick my side and I don’t change my mind. If you strike it well enough the keeper shouldn’t get there. It’s practice and just being confident striking a ball.”
The pressure that comes with a big occasion can, he admits, change things slightly but he says he would be unfazed by the prospect of taking one for his country during the coming week.
Meyler is speaking at a promotional event for EA Sports’ Fifa18 with the programme for Friday’s game set to include details of how a fan or two might get to play him. They should be wary.
Most footballers could probably hold their own comfortably at the game in a roomful of kids but the Corkman has established quite a reputation for himself with one tournament performance placing him in the top 100 players around the world and around 250,000 following him on YouTube just so that they can watch his games.
“Someone said to me: ‘why don’t you stream what you are playing?’ Then a couple of kids said: ‘oh I missed your last stream the other day, could you put the video on YouTube?’ I was like, ‘look, I will do’ that but I never realised how hard YouTube is in terms of editing videos, having certain music in videos, how there is copyright on certain things. I didn’t realise that then. I know it now. But that was how it started and it just kind of kicked on from there.”
He would be more than happy, meanwhile, to see his father John get the Cork hurling job although it is not quite clear whether he is hoping that the role might keep the college lecturer, who is currently in charge of the county’s under-21s, sufficiently occupied that he has less time on his hands to dissect his son’s performances.
“I don’t think he’s a father anymore,” says the midfielder with an affectionate smile, “he gave up on that five years ago. He’s more my personal manager now. He came to the Birmingham game at the weekend and after the game he’s saying: ‘you need to do this better or that better,’ and I’m like, ‘yeah, I want to play with my daughter for a while,”. That’s the way he is. But I wouldn’t change it.
“The biggest problem he has is that with the GAA you play and then you play again in five or six weeks’ time. He has five to six weeks to sit and dwell on a game and I don’t which is why he’s straight it saying I need to do this better or that better.
“I’ve had to say my piece to him about the Cork job, though. I’m born in Cork, grew up in Cork, and to me Cork is the biggest hurling team in the country. Yeah, Kilkenny over the last couple of years but throughout history Cork have been the best team and I’ve said to him that if the opportunity comes ‘you’ve got to grab it with two hands and take it’.
“Whether or not he gets the job, I don’t know. I want to see him get it, though. I think he’ll do very well.”
He is then asked about the prospect of Pat Gilroy ending up in the Dublin job but just shrugs. “No interest. It’s Dublin.”