Forde focus reaps rewards

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David Forde will reap the rewards of never giving up on his dream when he starts his first game for the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday night.

The 31-year-old Millwall keeper will become the oldest player to make his full debut for Ireland since the Second World War when he lines up against Italy in Liege.

Asked if he had started to doubt that international recognition would come his way, Forde said: "You do question it, but I suppose you have just got to be strong mentally. You dream of it all the time, you set your goals and it's been top of my list. To represent your country - it's every boy's dream, isn't it? It was always top of my list."

His appearance will cap an encouraging few weeks for a player who headed back to his native country in 2006 in a bid to resurrect his career at Derry City after failing to work his way into the reckoning at West Ham.

Asked about the turning points in his career, he cited his arrival at the New Den three summers ago as perhaps the most significant.

He made 50 appearances for the club last season and kept 20 clean sheets, a creditable return by anybody's standards.

Forde said: "I suppose going back to Derry was one (turning point), then getting back over to Cardiff.

"But I suppose the main one was probably getting down to Millwall and playing regularly in the last three seasons and not missing a game.

"I knew I could do a job in the Championship. Every year since I have been at Millwall, I have kept 20-plus clean sheets.

"To reach 20 this year in the Championship was a big personal goal as well. I am just hoping I can make it 21 tomorrow night."

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