Rhys Murphy set for 'second' Irish debut
Rhys Murphy is looking forward to making his debut for the Republic of Ireland for the second time in the coming ten days.
Arsenal stirker Murphy was recently cleared by FIFA to play for the Republic of Ireland and has been named by Noel King in the squad for the forthcoming UEFA U21 Championship games against Hungary in Sligo this Thursday and Turkey next week.
After playing for Ireland at under-15 level under Vincent Butler, the striker who was born Shoreham-by-Sea opted to play for the land of his birth.
Murphy, 20, played many times for England at underage level but when the opportunity came to return to Irish colours earlier this year he took it with both hands.
"The kit-man at Arsenal Vic Akers came to me and told me that Noel King had been asking me about the possibility of me switching back to Ireland," he explained.
"Then the Irish women's international Yvonne Tracy also said it to me. I was surprised but I followed it up and spoke to Noel. He said he was interested.
"When I played for Ireland when I was 15 I knew it was a good opportunity. I had Irish background but obviously being born in England I gave it a go but I thoroughly enjoyed playing for Ireland and everybody made me feel welcome so it wasn't a tough decision.
"My grandfather was from Dublin. He passed away when I was very young."
Murphy is looking forward to linking up with the Ireland under-21s today and will recognise a few faces from former squads and previous opponents at club level.
"There's a few names I know. I looked at the squad and a few I recognised but also a few I haven't played with before so I'm looking forward to getting to meet the lads," he said.
"I've been lucky enough to play in two UEFA finals and a World Cup with England and it was a great experience but I'd like to go on and win things with Ireland. I'm close to Conor Henderson at Arsenal and he said it's a good group. Hopefully we can go on and qualify."
Murphy made headlines recently when he had a trial at Glasgow Rangers but he is still an Arsenal player and after recovering from a broken collar bone last season he is focused on getting back to his best whatever happens at club level.
"I'd like to just play regular first team football as soon as I can and concentrate on that. That's the main thing is to play well and score goals whether it is with Ireland or at club level," he added.
If he can make his mark with Noel King's side over the next ten days it augurs well for Murphy and Ireland.