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It was great my dad was able to see it | Matt Holland on that goal

Matt Holland caught up with Joe Molloy on Sunday's Off The Ball, reliving many aspects of his car...


It was great my dad was able to see it | Matt Holland on that goal

Matt Holland caught up with Joe Molloy on Sunday's Off The Ball, reliving many aspects of his career, including the influence of his late father.

Throughout his career, Holland captained almost every club where he played. That was as a result, he says, of his attitude and work ethic, rather than any technical ability.

Holland attributes this to his late father, himself a non-league footballer. Holland senior took a job at the bank for the sake of his family's financial security rather than pursue his football further.

The former Republic of Ireland midfielder says he has a conscientious approach to life and did well at school despite admitting he never used the academic qualifications he got.

Holland believes work ethic is "something you can't teach someone, I honestly think it's inbuilt. You've either got it or you haven't, that ability to work as hard as you can."

That work ethic seems to spring from some early disappointments in his football life [Arsenal rejected him for being 'too small'] and a drive to impress his father, in particular.

"I always wanted to prove that to people, my dad especially. I wanted him to say 'well done' and get a pat on the back most of the time."

Former Ipswich Town teammate Kieron Dyer put Holland into a 'Best XI he played alongside', saying Holland was a seven out of ten on everything.

Holland, of course, did not possess the skills of Damien Duff or Robbie Keane, but "I was someone who gave everything I possibly could to be a professional footballer."

He tenderly recalls his relationship with his father, who wasn't forthcoming with praise if it was not deserved. "Yeah, he was quite tough," says Holland.

However, all his father required was application and dedication to elicit a coveted 'well done.'

"We had many a silent car journey home when things hadn't gone as planned. He was my biggest fan but he was also my biggest critic."

In a sign of a person's generation, Holland's father put together "loads of scrapbooks" documenting Holland's career and following his father's passing, Holland "managed to get hold of them."


"He took great pleasure in what I did, but at the same time, he was the first person to tell me if I hadn't done particularly well.

"The one thing he would always pick up on was if I didn't try. That was always the thing for him, if I didn't put the work in or the effort in, that would be the first thing he would tell me.

"Not if I misplaced a pass or didn't do the right thing, it was if I didn't track someone back or that sort of stuff would irritate him more."

It was about the controllables, says Holland of his father. "He was the same as me really, a bad loser, someone that worked hard at his game.  He wasn't technically gifted but he put everything in as well."

Holland's father was present in the Niigata Stadium against Cameroon for Ireland's opening game of the 2002 World Cup. Holland - who famously scored the equaliser against Cameroon that day - says that was one of the most pleasing moments of his career, not just the fact he played and scored in a World Cup but that his dad, who had sacrificed so much for his family, was there to see it.

A goal worthy of the scrapbook.

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2002 World Cup Cameroon Matt Holland Republic Of Ireland World Cup Memories