"Hopefully we can bring a bit of excitement back to Irish football" - James McClean looks at the legacy of Euro 2016

The Ireland winger spoke to Off The Ball this evening

James McClean

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie 

Most Irish fans will have previously associated Ireland, rightly or wrongly, with route one football and being a team who instead wants to win matches wants to be difficult to beat.

Now, to a point these qualities aren't always bad (See: Shane Long's winning goal and our performance Germany) and for the most part, Martin O'Neill has given Ireland the belief that they can play clean, attractive football.

That to a degree is the legacy of Euro 2016. A team who's spirit and belief grew and grew throughout the qualifying campaign after a home draw against Scotland and managing to produce some of the best performances any Irish team has ever seen.

On tonight's Off The Ball, James McClean discussed the tournament as a whole, that famous victory over Italy and where we go from here.

"To be honest, I've still got that feeling of hurt and what might have been," he said in the aftermath to the defeat to France on Sunday afternoon.

"We were so close, we had a 10-minute spell where the wheels kind of came off and in the end that's just sent us packing. I think when the dust settles over a few days and the dust settles you can look back with a sense of pride and a good achievement. But at the moment it still hurts from being so raw."

He looked at some of the positive performances from the group stages and in particular the football that was played against one of the tournament favourites, Italy.

"Against a very good Italy side and a very good French side we played some really nice football. We were really strong as a group. We weren't afraid to mix it so I think it bodes well for the squad. There's a few younger players in the squad and based on those two performances I think it bodes really well. We're not a team who has a lot of the ball but when we had it we were using it well.

James McClean dribbles past Stefano Sturaro. Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

"We knew for the Italy game this is win or bust. If we don't get a result we're going home here. We went out knowing we needed a win and that nothing else would do. I don't know, there was just a different feeling from the first whistle.

"We felt that this is the night that we're going to do it. I can't really explain to you the feeling of difference between the Belgium game and the Italy game. I just think we knew we were going home and we weren't ready to go home."

You can hear tonight's full interview with McClean where he discusses his role in the squad, the upcoming World Cup qualifiers and how what his future holds at club level.