Poznan has turned green as the Polish city awaits the arrival of Ireland’s European Championship hopefuls ahead of Sunday’s opening game against Croatia.
Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad flew from their base near Gdansk on Saturday morning to be greeted by thousands of Irish fans.
Local organizers estimate there are as many as 20,000 Ireland supporters already in Poznan.
And more are on the way after the biggest exodus of traveling fans since the 1994 World Cup in America.
Ireland’s first major tournament appearance since 2002 has whetted the appetite with the Green Army anxious to escape the recession back home.
And even the 73-year-old Trapattoni, European football’s most decorated manager, has almost been caught up in the moment as he tries to maintain a professional approach.
The Italian said, “I am not particularly excited, I’m a little tense. I want to keep a level of tension.
“If the manager doesn’t keep the tension, the players can lose intensity. The manager needs to keep a positive tension.”
Trap’s message to the thousands of fans was a simple one – his team will do them proud against Croatia on Sunday night.
Trapattoni added: “I repeat always, you must be proud about our country, our people, because they make a very big sacrifice - the money, the travel, the trip. The players know this.
“All players before the training, I repeated this to them. Our country expects, our supporters expect.
“Football is about the 90 minutes, but it’s important that we guarantee our people total and complete commitment.”
Ireland received a major boost before their journey to Poznan when goalkeeper Shay Given trained fully on Friday after his recent knee injury.
He will be named in the team when Trapattoni attends a press conference at the Poznan stadium on Saturday evening.
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