A role with your national team is big at any time but given the amount of games the Republic of Ireland are facing into over the next couple of years, Ruaidhrí Higgins believes he couldn’t be taking up his new role as Chief Scout and Opposition Analyst at a better time.
While exact dates for competitions remain somewhat up in the air due to the disruption of Covid-19, what is known is that at some stage in the next 12 months or so, Stephen Kenny’s Irish side will be taking part in the Nations League, Euro 2020 play-offs, hopefully the European Championshps themselves and the World Cup Qualifiers for Qatar 2022.
Throw into the mix a number of friendlies and the national side faces the possibility of playing an unprecedented amount of games in the coming months.
While that presents its own challenges, it couldn’t be any better as far as Higgins is concerned.
“It’s unprecedented at international level but it’s very, very exciting as a result,” he said.
“For me, coming from club football, I’m used to having regular matches and that’s something that I enjoy. I’m sure the coaching staff and Stephen will embrace it as well.
“There will be three different competitions within a 12 month period and it’ll be very, very exciting. The more football for me the better. You can’t beat it.
“Working in football is amazing but to be working at that level is a real honour and privilege for me and I can’t wait to get going.
“Personally, it enhances your confidence levels and gives you more belief when someone like Stephen places this sort of trust in you. I believe in myself anyway but I’m just thankful for the opportunity he has given me.
“We see the game through the same sort of eyes,” he said.
With the Premier League and Championship getting underway this week, one of Higgins’ tasks will be keeping tabs on Irish players for Kenny but he does not know as yet if he will be able to attend games due to the fact they will be played behind closed doors initially.
“It’s up in the air at the minute,” he said when asked about travel to games.
“That is part of my job going to England probably twice a week but I’m not sure if different associations will allow one or two people into the games.
“We’ll have a clearer picture on that in the next week or so I’d imagine but the sooner we can go and watch players and teams live the better but obviously health at this moment in time is the most important thing.
“We have Wyscout and InStat and all the technology needed to track players but it still doesn’t beat being there and watching players with a bird’s eye view and watching the game properly.”
While Higgins will be keeping an eye on players who can do a job for Ireland at an international level, he doesn’t envisage huge changes in personnel from those who featured under Mick McCarthy.
“Everyone in football has different opinions on different players. I think we’re all aware of the type of player that Stephen likes and personally they’re the ones who I like myself but there won’t be drastic changes.
“I’m sure there will be players who Stephen will feel he can get a lot out of but I wouldn’t imagine there will be any drastic changes in terms of personnel but we’ll see. Again, it all depends on club form, injuries and all that sort of stuff but you can sure that Stephen will be on top of all the stats and that we’re watching every game possible and reporting back with good information.
“I’m sure then he’ll go on and make the right decisions from there.
“It’s really important that we create that club environment. Everywhere Stephen has been he has created a good environment and you can see he did the same with the Under 21s based on how they play and how they celebrate goals. It is something we’ll try and create.”
Higgins envisages a bright future.
“It’s exciting times ahead. There are a lot of good players available to us and a lot of exciting talents coming through the ranks so it’s a really good time to be involved in the senior international setup and I can’t wait to really get stuck in in the heart of it.”