Football euro 2000: Kiely's strong on experience

Irish stand-in keeper is not overawed by the big occasion. By Steve Tongue
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The Independent Online
THEY ALSO serve, who only sit on the subs bench. Tonight in Turkey, Dean Kiely (pronunciation as in Minogue), late of York City and Bury, will stand up and be counted as one of the Republic of Ireland's starting XI for the first time in the country's most important match for two years. Usefully, he has already had a taste, coming on to replace Alan Kelly after an hour of the first leg in Dublin on Saturday; jubilant as anyone when Ireland scored 11 minutes from time, he then failed by inches to become the hero of the night on his debut, just failing to reach Tayfur Havutcu's equalising penalty kick.

But any expectations of meeting a rather star-struck stand-in were quickly dispelled when he faced the media at the squad's five-star hotel high above Bursa. Kiely is 29 and, despite having done his time in the lower divisions, has always expected that he would reach a higher level. He has now played more than 400 games, including a Wembley play-off final and a cup tie in front of 55,000 at Old Trafford, won promotion twice and cost Charlton pounds 1m last summer. Overawed he will not be whatever Turkey throw at him - literally, in the case of their supporters.

"I think I'm experienced and I'll draw on that experience," he said. "I've been involved with the squad for some time and now it turns out I'm playing, my thoughts and the way I prepare will be just the same as for previous games. Every squad I've been involved in I've come across thinking that if called upon I'll be mentally and physically ready."

He clearly was when the call finally came on Saturday. "It was a case of seeing Alan pull up, having a little warm-up and then get on and get on with it. People have a misconception that the 11 who are going to play are clued in and focused and the subs are just going to sit there snoozing. It is not the case at all. It is a squad game now."

Mark Kinsella, a team-mate for Charlton and Ireland, provides confirmation of his goalkeeper's solid contribution to the club's promising recovery from relegation last May. "He's been outstanding, kept us in a lot of games and saved a lot of points for us," Kinsella said. "He's been with the squad for a year or two and now with half an hour on Saturday he's let everyone know he can do a job. I don't think Deano will have a problem."

Six feet tall and well built, Kiely dealt with shots driven at him by the Irish goalkeeping coach, Packie Bonner, across a ploughed field of a training pitch with the same assurance that greeted journalists questions. Even with a bit of spin and swerve added, nothing found a way past him. Would that it is the same in the Ataturk Stadium.