Randolph ready for Anfield return

Darren Randolph cannot wait to return to the scene of his Premier League debut this weekend
Sunday 13 May 2007 was a date few West Ham United fans will ever forget – and nor will goalkeeper Darren Randolph.

For, while Carlos Tevez was firing the Hammers to victory at Manchester United to complete the Great Escape, Randolph was making his Premier League debut for already-relegated Charlton Athletic 30 miles down the road in Liverpool.

A day after his 20th birthday, the Irish stopper produced a string of fantastic saves, only for Harry Kewell’s late penalty to deny him a winning bow in a thrilling 2-2 draw.

On Saturday, eight and a bit years on from his big day, the goalkeeper will return to Anfield as a West Ham United player, and he cannot wait…

“It was the day after I turned 20 and I made my debut in a 2-2 draw,” he correctly recalled. “We were doing well and were winning until the 87th minute or so and then the ball came in and one of our defenders flicked behind for a corner with his hand, and they were awarded a penalty.

“It was Harry Kewell who took it and slotted it in the corner, so it finished 2-2. It was Robbie Fowler’s last league game for Liverpool, too, so it was a massive occasion. I made a few saves, so it makes for good memories.

“There are a few stadiums that people want to play in and Anfield is one of them. My Dad supported Liverpool because he played basketball in the city for a few years, too.

“I’m looking forward to going back there and playing in that atmosphere again and hopefully I can put in a performance like I did on my debut and we can get something.”
I’m looking forward to going back there and playing in that atmosphere again and hopefully I can put in a performance like I did on my debut and we can get something
Randolph made his Premier League debut for West Ham as recently as last Saturday when, despite his heroics, the Hammers went down to a 4-3 home defeat by AFC Bournemouth.

For the 28-year-old, the result made for mixed emotions after he had been brought into the side for the suspended Adrian.

With one goalkeeper’s misfortune being another’s opportunity, the No1 is now seeking to show everyone exactly why he has earned senior international recognition and a host of individual awards during a successful career dating back to that afternoon at Anfield.

“I was very pleased personally with my performance, especially with how the week went. We have come back in and looked at the game and obviously we need to get back to doing the basics well, which we didn’t do last weekend, and carry on from there.

“To know that the manager supports me obviously helped and I just enjoyed going out there to play well, which I did.

“My chance came a lot sooner than I thought it would, and after what I think was a harsh red card shown to Adrian. I am just looking forward to playing and enjoying the experience because I have worked hard to get back to the Premier League.”

Should he shine for West Ham, Randolph could soon add to the two senior caps he has earned with Ireland.

The Bray-born stopper has been named in the provisional squad for the Boys in Green’s Euro 2016 qualifiers with Gibraltar and Georgia next month – games which Martin O’Neill’s Ireland must win to keep their hopes of qualification alive.

“They always put five goalkeepers in the provisional squad and then cut it down to four, so I’ll wait and see who is in the final squad.

“They are qualifiers so it would be great to be involved. They are obviously must-win games now with the group and how tight it is, so hopefully there are exciting times ahead.”