Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers is hoping his side can follow the example of his wife Linda and deliver when it really matters in the Champions League on Wednesday.
On Friday morning the couple welcomed their third child, Jules, into the world before the 38-year-old went on to feature for his side in their 2-2 draw with Waterford later that evening.
While the result was not one that Dundalk would have wanted, Rogers is hopeful that the spirit showed in rescuing a point from the jaws of defeat will stand his side well as they prepare to take on Slovenian champions NJ Celje in the first qualifying round of the Champions League tomorrow (Wednesday) – kick-off 6pm Irish time and live on RTÉ Two.
There had been fears Rogers might miss the trip to Hungary due the impending arrival, but he says it is a welcome relief that everything has gone to plan in order to allow him to make what will be a record 46th appearance in Europe for the veteran.
Asked did he ever consider sitting Friday out, he said: “I suppose you’ll never know how it will go, but she was born this morning at 10.40am, so I had plenty of time to spend a little time with her before going home.
“I’m just delighted that all is good and that both Linda and Jules are doing well.
“It’s a mixed day though. Obviously it’s a fantastic day to celebrate the birth of your child, but from a football point of view today was a disappointing result. We just have to put it behind us now, though, because there’s a lot to look forward to next week. It’s going to be a big week.”
It was at this stage last year when Rogers emerged as Dundalk’s hero with two saves in a penalty shoot-out victory away to Riga in Latvia. With this year’s tie being played out over one leg due to Covid-19, the possibility of that happening again remains high, but he doesn’t care who takes the plaudits in Ujpest on Wednesday as long as it’s someone from Dundalk.
“As long as there is a hero in a Dundalk jersey on Wednesday, we’ll be very happy,” he said.
“We could really do with the boost of a good run in Europe and it’s well within us.
“We just have to go and put our best foot forward next week and put in a better performance than tonight.
“Obviously there were good signs shown in terms of the bravery to get back into the game and nearly nicking it at the end. It’s not where we want to be in terms of our results in the league, but we’re in the next round of the Cup and we’ve got Champions League football, so there’s a lot to look forward to.”
Rogers said that the spirit shown in coming back from two down to draw on Friday would be the main focus this week.
“It’s good that we showed that character is still within the group,” he said.
“You want more of that and you’ll need it in Europe because no matter who you play it’s going to be a tough tie. We’ll have to be at our best to progress.
“There’s obviously the carrot of a home game in the second round as well, but we’ve a lot to do before we get to that,” said the father of three.