Andrews amazed by rapid rise

BY foxsports • November 14, 2011

The Republic of Ireland midfielder was playing for the MK Dons in the fourth tier of the English game at the start of the 2008-09 season. But on Tuesday night he and his international team-mates will almost certainly book their trip to Poland and Ukraine next summer by completing a play-off victory over Estonia after winning the first leg 4-0. Andrews said: "It sounds weird doesn't it? It sounds mad. It's been a long road, but it's one I have enjoyed. "Even my time in League Two, it was probably the turning point in my career. "Paul Ince came in and we really hit it off. He was fantastic for me and he gave me the chance to go to Blackburn and kick on with my career, and the boss here has been fantastic with me as well. "It's frightening, really, to think about it. It's unbelievable to hopefully be on the verge of playing in a major championship. That would be something that would live with me for ever." Ireland will end a 10-year wait for qualification for a major tournament if they see out the job at the Aviva Stadium, which would go a long way to making up for the heartache against France in Paris two years ago. The memories of Thierry Henry's handball and the implications for the Republic may never be erased, but Andrews is confident success this time around would go some of the way towards easing the pain. He said: "If and when we hopefully do it on Tuesday, it will certainly go some way. We tasted disappointment on that evening and we know how much it hurt. It certainly took me a long time to get over it, my form certainly wasn't the same after that for a few months. "But the character we have shown since then and the way we have bounced back...the only real disappointment we have had was probably the home result to Russia, which in the grand scheme of things in two years of international football isn't the be all and end all." The Republic's previous play-off record is littered with misfortune, and the current situation is not something to which successive generations of players have become accustomed. Andrews said: "It's weird, isn't it? We have made it relatively easy for ourselves. It's not like us at all. "Normally we make hard work of everything we do, but thankfully on Friday the performance was certainly there and we got the decisions on the night as well."

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