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Home is where the Heart is


HEARTS star Alan Maybury finally feels a fully-fledged member of the Republic of Ireland squad - more than six years after making his debut.

In becoming accustomed to wearing the green of Ireland, it has been a long, hard road for Maybury, and not one he would recommend.

The 26-year-old full-back made his bow in a 2-1 defeat to the Czech Republic in March 1998 and, while his next appearance followed 14 months later, Maybury then had to wait five years before he again pulled on an international jersey.

Such a long spell in the wilderness was primarily due to his situation at the time with Leeds as he found himself firmly down the pecking order for the right-back role behind former Ireland team-mate Gary Kelly and Danny Mills.

During his six years at Elland Road, Maybury made just 18 appearances, so when Hearts came calling in October 2001, the decision to move barely bore thinking about.

It is one Maybury has certainly not regretted as he has now played more than 100 times for the Tynecastle club, finally earning a recall to the Republic fold in March this year.

For Maybury, it was a case of coming full circle for that match was also against the Czech Republic, but unlike the previous occasion, he did not have to wait long for his next cap to follow.

Maybury has since become a regular under manager Brian Kerr and can expect to start at Lansdowne Road tomorrow for the opening World Cup qualifying clash against Cyprus.

"The last few games have just been friendlies, but it’s been nice to be involved and have a run in the squad after being in for one and then out for five years," said Maybury.

"I certainly feel part of the squad now more than ever and, with it being the start of the competitive games, it is a little different. It’s something to play for now.

"But when I left Leeds I wasn’t moving to sort out my international career or anything like that. I needed to start playing because I was 23 and I had not played a lot of games. I just needed to go somewhere I was going to play and the way it’s worked out, it has gone really well.

"I’ve made steady progress since I moved to Hearts, although in the last six months things have really taken off. To start in all four Ireland games at the end of last season was a real confidence booster, and winning away in Holland topped it off.

"But now it becomes difficult because there are some good teams and no easy games. With a home game first up, it’s vital we get off to a good start and get some momentum going."

Ironically for Maybury, after so long trying to break through at right-back for Leeds, he has found a home at left-back with Hearts, and subsequently for the Republic.

It is not his preferred role, but he appreciates beggars cannot be choosers when it comes to forging a professional career.

"Given a choice I’d like to play right-back, but the last six months to a year I’ve been playing at left-back for Hearts because of circumstances," stated Maybury.

"I have to think about things a little more when I’m on the left. It doesn’t come quite as naturally, but if that’s the role I’m asked to play then I will jump at the chance."

Taken from the Scotsman

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