Irish football squad stays at Estrela da Luz resort .jpg

Irish football squad stays at Estrela da Luz resort

WHILE THE media focused its attention on the England training camp, the Irish national squad’s recent stay in the Algarve almost went unnoticed. The Irish players stayed at the luxury Estrela da Luz resort in Praia da Luz (Lagos) for a four-day training camp, from May 19 to 23.

Unlike the England boys, the Irish squad came out to Portugal with only the training staff, and not with their families. In fact, with all the attention on the England camp, the Irish players were able to enjoy a very low-key visit with little fuss or press intrusion. “There were a few fans seeking autographs both at the resort and at Lagos municipal stadium, where the team trained, but it was all very friendly and there were no problems,” Severine Utiger, from the marketing department at Oceânico Developments, told The Resident. Apparently, it was Chelsea player Damien Duff who seemed to attract the most attention, due to the popularity of his team and its manager, José Mourinho, in Portugal.

The Ireland players, which include such well-known names as Robbie Keane (Spurs), Shay Given (Newcastle), John O’Shea (Manchester United) and Steven Reid (Blackburn Rovers), among others, brought their own security with them to Portugal for their four-day stay.

When asked how the visit had come about, Severine told The Resident: “Oceânico Developments and the Irish FA have a mutual friend and, when a location needed to be found for the training camp, Estrela da Luz was put forward. Once the decision was made, everything was kept very quiet as we were told the visit must be low profile.”

The players used the gym and pool facilities at the Estrela da Luz resort, as well as the health and beauty centre, and trained every day at Lagos municipal stadium. Ireland manager, Steve Staunton, was very complimentary about the facilities: “We’ve come out with glorious sunshine, fantastic facilities and we’ve been able to train in a great environment. You never know, but if we get the opportunity, we’ll be back here, that’s for sure!’’

Ireland Captain, Robbie Keane, seemed equally enthused: “It’s been great and the lads have certainly enjoyed it! There’s a great gym here (designed by John Aldridge), a lovely training pitch and wonderful accommodation. We came here to train for the game in Dublin and we’ve certainly enjoyed doing that here.’’

Lagos Câmara President, Júlio Barroso, had the opportunity to meet the team personally, when a special evening was arranged at Oceânico’s Estrela do Mar restaurant in Lagos, hosted by Oceânico Developments’ owners, Gerry Fagan and Simon Burgess. The council chief was presented with a gift of some Irish crystal and was delighted to have his picture taken with Chelsea star, Damien Duff.