Long: Underdogs Ireland have nothing to lose
Ireland have been pitted against reigning world and European champions Spain, 2006 World Cup winners Italy and Croatia, but the Irish belief remains that anything is possible.
“We thrive on being underdogs and have nothing to lose,” Long says in the June 2012 issue of FourFourTwo.
“The first game is against Croatia, and if we can get a win there it sets us up nicely for Italy and Spain.”
Under manager Giovanni Trapattoni, Ireland are unbeaten in 13 internationals, including a 2-0 victory over the Italians and a goalless draw with Croatia - something that the West Bromwich Albion striker acknowledges could stand them in good stead.
“We managed to beat Italy last summer, and on our day we are one of the toughest teams anyone can play against. I’m sure they are not looking forward to playing against us because they know how hard we are to break down," says Long.
And the former Reading front-man was also keen to point out another contributing factor to Ireland’s potential success at Euro 2012 - the passionate support of the travelling fans.
“They are probably the best fans in the world. No matter how the game is going, they are singing and getting right behind the team.
"That’s the good thing about Ireland: there’s no pressure to bring back medals. Everything we do is a bonus. That might change this time because we have such a good squad under such a good manager, so expectations might be higher.
"The main thing for every player is to do the jersey proud and come back with no regrets.”
Read the full interview with Shane Long in the June 2012 issue of FourFourTwo, which includes a 68-page supplement previewing Euro 2012. However, be quick. It's only in shops today before the July issue hits the shelves on Saturday June 2.
By Simon Harrison