Clarets defender Ward excited for Euro 2016

Stephen Ward is excited to be playing at the Euros
Stephen Ward is excited to be playing at the Euros

Stephen Ward is no stranger to major internatjuonal tournament football.

The Clarets left back played all three group games for the Republic of Ireland at Euro 2012, as Giovanni Trapattoni’s men lost to Croatia, eventual winners Spain and finalists Italy.

This time around, Ireland again have a tough draw, as they take on Italy again, Belgium and Sweden, and Ward – who netted his third international goal in last Tuesday night’s 2-1 friendly defeat against Belarus – is looking to finish off one of his most memorable seasons in style.

Ward said: “It’s exciting “First and foremost we want to go there and be competitive and hopefully get out of our group and see where that takes us.

“I think the atmosphere will be great.

“With it being in France there will be a lot of fans over there and it will be a great spectacle.

“We’re delighted to have qualified because it’s a privilege to be in a tournament like this, and hopefully we can do ourselves proud.

“I think half the country will probably be over there. They’ll get their summer over there.”

Ward came into the Burnley side for the final 23 games of the season, and didn’t experience defeat in the league as the Clarets stormed to the Championship title.

He previously won the league with Wolves in 2009,but admitted this year was special: “It was one of the biggest achievements of my career.

“It’s difficult when you get relegated because you know you’re a scalp and teams want to turn you over.

“Last year we gave it a right go but came up a little bit short.

“To come back the way we have this season is unbelievable.

“Nobody really fancied us to do what we’ve done, we’ve proved everyone wrong as we keep doing.”

And he added: “It’s a different team (from Wolves), but I’m more experienced and older, you cherish it more now.

“Sometimes you can let these moments pass you by, so it’s important we remember days like those.”