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Friday, 14 June, 2002, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
McCarthy's praise for Quinn
Sunderland striker Quinn is his country's record goalscorer.
Quinn pulls on the gloves during training on Friday
Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy has praised the role of Niall Quinn both on and off the field during these World Cup finals.

Two years ago when Ireland's World Cup qualifying campaign began, Quinn told the manager he was considering retiring from international football.

But McCarthy talked him out of it and both men will be delighted he did.

Quinn came off the bench against Germany and then Saudi Arabia, changing the game in Ireland's favour both times, and hopes to do the same in Sunday's second-round clash with Spain in Suwon.

But the 35-year-old striker has been an inspiration behind the scenes too.

"Niall came to me in Turkey at the start of the qualifiers and wondered if I was going to tell him to call it a day," said McCarthy.

Open Quote
I knew if I needed him to play I could count on him - I wouldn't have brought him solely for his work off the field
Close Quote
Mick McCarthy

"He was considering it but I talked him out of it, very much for the reasons you've seen here.

"His input on the field is always positive. He gives us a different target and he lifts people when they see him coming on the field.

"Off the field, he has also been marvellous and has taken on more than a captain's role.

"He has been great with the younger players, and as a liaison between me and the rest of the squad he has been terrific.

"Two years ago he didn't really expect to be here having the time of his life, enjoying it and playing with a vibrant young team as the elder statesman.

"But when he comes on he's still a very valued member of the football team which is what he really wants to be.

Great fixture

"I knew he would be a huge help to me off the field and that's all a plus, but the football is important to me and him.

"I knew if I needed him to play I could count on him - I wouldn't have brought him solely for his work off the field."

Steve Staunton and Robbie Keane did not train today, but McCarthy said his physios were happy they would be fit for the Spain game.

"It is naturally a match everyone here is relishing.

"I think we have got the toughest one or as tough as any other game we could have got," said McCarthy.

"It's a great fixture, we have known all along who we would meet because from the outset I thought Spain would win their group and that Germany were favourites for ours.


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GROUP E
  P GD PTS
GERMANY 3 +10 7
IRELAND 3 +3 5
CAMEROON 3 -1 4
SAUDI ARABIA 3 -12 0

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