The Big Interview - Darren Randolph

Darren Randolph could never have imagined a week ago that he would be part of a winning team against Germany – let alone playing such a crucial role in the winning strike against the world champions.

Randolph appeared as a substitute for the Republic of Ireland just before half-time after Shay Given was forced to leave the pitch with a knee injury.

The West Ham United keeper kept his composure and showed his quality once again as he did everything to keep the Germany forwards at bay and then played his part in the match-winner on 70 minutes.

Randolph's long kick fell perfectly for Shane Long and he produced an exquisite finish past Manuel Neuer to guarantee a play-off place for the European Championship Finals next summer.

The Hammers keeper then played the full ninety minutes as the Republic of Ireland suffered a 2-1 defeat against Poland on Sunday night and missed out on automatic qualification by just one goal.

Randolph is now waiting anxiously for the draw which takes place on Sunday but is confident his team have enough quality to book their place alongside England, Wales and Northern Ireland at the Euro Finals.


Darren, it has been a memorable few days for you. If you would have been told a week ago that you would beat the world champions and would play a part in the winning goal, would you have believed it?

DR: “I definitely would not have believed that. It has been a crazy week but very enjoyable.

“I didn't have much time to get into the zone when I came onto the pitch. Shay was coming off on a stretcher and he quickly said all the best. The next thing I knew I was on the pitch.

“I remember for the goal that David Meyler passed the ball back to me and it may have been Mario Gotze who was trying to close me down.

“I put the ball onto my right foot and was aiming for Jon Walters but he was offside, so he let it go and Shane was onside and it was a great finish – especially against such a great keeper like Neuer.”



Ireland produced two of their best performances in the group stages against Germany taking a point away from home and then securing a memorable home win. Do you think that Ireland should have qualified automatically after taking four points from the world champions?

DR: “If you take four points off the world champions who are top team in the group, you are thinking of automatic qualification.

“But last month when we were sitting fourth and four points behind Scotland we would have taken a play-off position and would have probably taken it before the group stages had even started.

“To be this close and just one goal away from getting automatic qualification, it wasn't to be but we have now got the play-offs.”



Are you hoping for a favourable draw in the play-offs next month and what would it mean to you to represent your country at a major tournament?

DR: “I hope we can get a favourable draw. I grew up watching these tournaments and was thinking that I would love the chance to play in one of them.

“I am not going to lie. I had some thoughts thinking we were going to beat Poland and qualify, but hopefully we will be celebrating next month.”



Was it always going to be a tough challenge for you facing Robert Lewandowski – one of the best strikers in the world at the moment?

DR:“It was always going to be tough to get a result in Poland, let alone facing a striker who is showing this kind of form at the moment and he took his chance.”



This could prove to be a great summer for the Hammers boys. We saw some great celebrations from the Wales players and Ginge after they reached the Euro Finals next summer. I'm sure you must have been delighted for him and you will want to be joining him in France?

DR: “He will come back over the moon having qualified and hopefully we will both end up going to the tournament in France next summer.”



We obviously turn our attentions back to club football this weekend and a difficult away game at Crystal Palace. Having made the breakthrough into the first-team earlier in the season, you must be determined to keep working hard and waiting for your chance once again?

DR: “I didn't expect to get a chance so soon after joining the Club but I need to keep working hard in training and wait for my next chance.

“Crystal Palace have had a great start to the season and every team that has gone there has not found it easy. We are going to need a performance like we have shown in our other away games in the league to get anything on Saturday. It is another very tough game.”



You know Alan Pardew very well having played him under him at Charlton. How much praise have you got for the job he has done at Selhurst Park?

DR: “At the time when I was at Charlton, I was second choice as we had Scott Carson on loan from Liverpool but he couldn't play at Anfield and Pards gave me my debut at Anfield in a 2-2 draw.

“It was fun and he is a big character. It will be good to see him again on Saturday. He is a good man manager and his confidence rubs off on the players, especially when you are doing well and he gets the players to believe in themselves more.”