With three losses and a goal difference of -8, Ireland equaled the joint worst Euro performance ever (Yugoslavia in '84, Denmark '00 and Bulgaria '04) in the group stage of Euro 2012. But in the 19th minute of their first group stage match against Croatia, they did score their one and only goal. It wasn't scored by Robbie Keane or Kevin Doyle or Damien Duff or even the much discussed strike partnership of Long-Cox. It was scored by a defender with three international goals to his credit: Sean St Ledger.
On Monday, Ireland lost 2-0 to Italy in what was their final match of the tournament and St Ledger -- along with Keith Andrews -- again did his part to make Ireland's showing a bit more respectable. Blocking shots and even making a goal-line clearance, the 27-year-old helped Shay Given enough that the goalkeeper probably now owes him a free dinner or two at the reasonably priced eatery of his choice.
St Ledger, who was born in Birmingham, England, was first capped by Ireland in 2009 and has made 30 appearances for his grandfather's homeland since then. After Ireland were knocked out of Euro 12, St Ledger retweeted a message from the Notebook of Love account that read, "A REAL BOYFRIEND: calls you for NOTHING, texts you all the time, wants to see you, cries, gets jealous, over protective & loves you." No truer words have ever been retweeted by a footballer in the hours after getting knocked out of a major tournament.
After moving from Preston North End to Leicester before last season, St Ledger was transfer listed in January after a falling out with manager Nigel Pearson over playing time, which St Ledger wanted to maximize in order to keep his place in the Ireland team. But Leicester's sudden desperation for a warm body in defense forced them to cancel an agreed move to Ipswich Town and put him back in the squad, where he played himself back into Pearson's good graces and earned more starts to prepare him to score more goals in Euro 12 than Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
And now, in the interest of knowing him a little better, here are a few niblets of information I just made up about him:
-He is an actual saint.
-He owns night vision goggles.
-He once fought a lobster just on principle.
-Has a harp and no desire to ever play it.
-His real name is Herb Teddy.
Previous names to remember: Alan Dzagoev, Michael Krohn-Dehli, Nikica Jelavic, Andriy Shevchenko, Theo Gebre Selassie, Nicklas Bendtner, Fernando Torres, Theo Walcott, Giorgos Karagounis, Cristiano Ronaldo