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ireland's call Bamford: Taking the ‘easy option’ with the Boys in Green would have been wrong call

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Patrick Bamford. Photo: Peter Powell/Reuters

Patrick Bamford. Photo: Peter Powell/Reuters

Patrick Bamford. Photo: Peter Powell/Reuters

Patrick Bamford has always been a bit different to the stereotypical footballer and there was something refreshing about the way he described his decision to wait for an England call-up, rather than jumping at the chance to play international football with Ireland.

Just as there are not too many footballers who get offered places at Harvard University or play the violin, there are not too many on record for considering the hopes and dreams of others as they weighed up their own international future.

Bamford is eligible to play for England and the Republic of Ireland, through a grandparent, and has represented both countries at youth level.

But when Mick McCarthy attempted to convince the former Chelsea youngster to commit to Ireland, his conscience kicked in.

“There was a point when, during my first season at Leeds, where he (Mick McCarthy) did get in touch,” said Bamford.

“I had a knee injury, so I was more focused on getting fit and making sure I could play the rest of the season for Leeds.

“But, also, I felt because my heart had been committed to playing for England, and I had always dreamt of that, I felt it would be wrong to then play for Ireland, to go and play international football just because they had asked me.

“If I did that, I might have kept someone out of that team whose dream was to play for Ireland. I didn’t think that would be fair. I had to stay true to myself, work hard and try to reach my dreams to make them happen.”

Bamford has made his dream come true by earning a call-up for England’s World Cup qualifiers against Hungary, in Budapest tomorrow, Andorra and Poland.

When it was put to the 27-year-old that football is not an industry that is always renowned for its compassion, Bamford added: “I just think that if I went and played for Ireland, when my dream as a little kid was always to play for England and somebody else’s dream might have been to always play for Ireland, and then I ended up taking that slot just because I felt like the England one might never come and it (Ireland) might be, without being disrespectful, the easy option because it had been offered to me, then I don’t think that’s the right thing to do.

“There were times I thought, ‘Maybe it (England) won’t happen’ for a split-second, but then I’d get my head back on track and push towards it. I always said never give up, even if I ended up getting called up when I was 36!

“For me, that would be a triumph, so it was just a case of keep going until the day I have to hang my boots up. And if I did it, I did it, and if I didn’t I knew that I’d tried my best.”

Accused by some of being too posh, solely on the back of being privately educated and displaying intelligence, Bamford explained how he decided between his dreams of the Premier League and an offer from Harvard.

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“At school, all my mates were doing their UCAS (universities and colleges admissions service) applications and it was before I signed pro,” said Bamford. “I wasn’t sure I was going to get a pro contract, so I had to go through the process as well.

“But I didn’t want to go to university in England. I wanted to do a football scholarship in America, so my dad put the feelers out. The school helped with that.

“The first reply was the University of Connecticut and that was how Harvard came with their offer.

“Football was always my first love and it sounds weird to say I turned Harvard down, but I was never really interested.”

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