David Forde pays tribute to ‘sportsman’ David Meyler on his retirement
Midfielder announced his retirement from competitive football at 30
Goalkeeper David Forde, Séamus Coleman and David Meyler during an Ireland training session in 2014. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper David Forde is among those to have paid tribute to David Meyler after the 30-year-old midfielder announced that he has been forced to retire from competitive football.
The Cork native’s decision comes as a result of ongoing injury problems that severely restricted his first-team opportunities last season and had hampered his ability to get a club for the campaign just started.
“It’s very sad to hear that about David, because he is such a beautiful man,” said Forde immediately after hearing the news about the Corkman who had started out at Cork City before having spells with Sunderland, Hull City and Reading and played 26 times for Ireland.
Forde, who is to be honoured at half-time in next week’s game against Switzerland for his own contribution to Irish football , was clearly taken aback by the news.
“He’s such an athlete, he’s such a sportsman; he’s such a proud Cork man,” continued the former Derry City and Millwall goalkeeper. “He loves his hurling, loves his GAA, loves playing soccer. I remember when he wore the armband for the first time – when Martin O’Neill handed it to him – he was walking around like he was 10 foot tall.
“So it’s sad day for him and a sad day for football, but I’ve no doubt his family and his dad; they’re strong people and David is a strong-minded man, so I’m sure he’ll find something that he will transition into again. But it isn’t an easy time.”
Forde knows all about that as he tries to get used to life an ex-player at a time when he is still getting over the death of his father, Patrick, three months ago. But he appreciates, he says, that all for ups and downs, he was immensely fortunate to have such a long career in senior football.
“I was lucky enough to get 20 years out of a career,” he says. “They say, on average, if you get seven or eight years out of a professional football career, you’ve done extremely well. So to get 20 . . . I’ve been extremely blessed.”
He is humbled by the opportunity to have been invited back to the Switzerland game which intends to attend with his mother, Sheila.
“To come here next week and be honoured, standing out on the pitch, speaking in front of the fans and everything, it’s is going to be mind-blowing.”
Ireland’s prospects in the game will not have been damaged by the news Liverpool star Xherdan Shaqiri has opted out of the game in order to focus on getting into the team at his club.
Stephen Lichsteiner of Augsburg, Werder Bremen’s Michael Lang and Timm Klose of Norwich City are among the other players to miss out for one reason or another as manager as Vladimir Petkovic named his squad.
Forde would clearly love to be more directly involved in the game but says that he is getting on with the next stage of his life, establishing a company, Pathfinder coaching and development, which he intends to be a vehicle that allows him to pass on to young players some of the many hard lessons that he learned over the course of what was a hugely eventful career.
Forde is already working closely with the Crystal Palace academy, speaking to them there about the journey he travelled and some of the various pitfalls he encountered.
“My dreams and aspirations were to be a professional footballer but I was ruthless and unforgiving,” he recalls. “My mindset was unforgiving; there was no mercy shown, and that was to people around me, to team-mates, to family, because I wanted to get there, get to the top. But then I realised that that was all borderline self-harm. I was ruthless to myself, unforgiving to myself; it can bring deep and dark lows within yourself.”
Ultimately though he was late achieving some of the major goals professional footballers set for themselves, like becoming a senior international.
He did become extremely successful but realised that this just brought new pressures.
“I think I pulled my quad around the time of the Estonia playoffs (in 2011), I missed out on the games and when I got back to Millwall I was injured. I was really struggling with myself, there was a real possibility of missing out on the Euros and I really started to realise that this was not normal, functional or healthy.
“I needed to explore that and I took it on myself to do some inner engineering on myself, to look at those deeper layers within myself that were shaping how I viewed things.
“That’s how I started to understand that sense of self discovery, that journey and transformational exercise; that the only constant in life is change. It was about understanding my nature, my character, my personality.”
It all kicked of a process that continues to have a major impact on Forde to this day. Since his retirement he has travelled extensively and sought to explore a spiritual side to things that he clearly takes extremely seriously although he insists that he is having fun while doing it.
“It was something that I had promised myself I would do when I retired because when you are playing you are so engrossed in it all that you don’t really have time to yourself, you are in it 24/7.
“So, it was a promise I made to myself a long time ago. As a child watching cowboys and Indians, I was always one for the Indians so it was always a place that I wanted to go: Red Rock, Arizona, Sedona and spend some time with the Hopi Indians, the Navajos and the Apaches, stuff like that was truly phenomenal; a mind blowing experience.
“To get around the world and to explore the different cultures from nations and what we can actually learn from them; what I have learned from them has been completely phenomenal. I spent time in the Himalayas, deep within the Himalayas and spent time just recently with a Shaman from Bolivia so . . . I’ve been having the craic lads, I’ll tell you, it’s been great.”