Brunt is looking on the bright side of missed tournament

Chris Brunt talks to the press at Northern Ireland's training base at Carton House.   Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Chris Brunt talks to the press at Northern Ireland's training base at Carton House. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

0
Have your say

Whether or not Chris Brunt is much of a Monty Python fan, he’s doing a good job of looking on the bright side of life.

Missing out on Euro 2016 - the first major tournament Northern Ireland had actually qualified for in 30 years, could easily have made Brunt a grumpy guy, especially given the 12 years of largely fruitless service he had previously given his country.

Brunt returned from his knee injury to net for Northern Ireland in November. Pic: William Cherry / Press Eye

Brunt returned from his knee injury to net for Northern Ireland in November. Pic: William Cherry / Press Eye

But, every cloud has its silver lining, every missed tournament its holiday in the sun.

And that’s exactly what Brunt enjoyed. Rather than feel like Cinderella missing out on the ball, he threw his own.

“I don’t know how much of a party it was for the lads that were away, being stuck in a hotel for ages - I had quite a good time,” he laughed.

“When you go to the training camp and see what the lads are doing - each international break can be a long 10 days. Everybody just sees the match-day but they don’t see the rest.

“You’re only training for a couple of hours a day and then sitting around for 10 days trying to fill time. I’m sure over the summer that was difficult for lads as well, being away from home and families and stuff. I don’t think it was always the massive party that everybody made it out to be.

“It was nice to experience it in some shape or form. I did bits and pieces of rehab but I got a weekend in Nice with some family, which was good, a couple of days in Paris. It was decent. I did some media work as well, which gave me the chance to experience something different.”

Perhaps that will be an avenue Brtunt further explores in a few years’ time but for now, his full focus is on making up for lost time.

No doubt his family would accept missing out on a holiday next June, if Brunt was off to Russia.

“Obviously we’ve given ourselves a good chance (of qualification) in the first few games,” he said. “We have momentum coming off the last campaign.

“Not playing was disappointing so it would be nice to get (to a tournament) again – but it’s a lot more difficult getting to a World Cup than it was to France.

“I know we won our group so we would have been there regardless, but there are a lot less (European) teams qualify (for the World Cup) and with Germany in the group as well, barring something unexpected you probably would think they’ll run out winners. So it’s going to be tough, but we’ve given ourselves a good chance so far.”

Brunt’s knee injury kept him out from February right through to September last year. Since his return, he has started 19 times for West Brom and also played and scored in Northern Ireland’s last qualifying game - a 4-0 home win against Azerbaijan.

“I’d never experienced missing out on that much time before so it probably helps you appreciate it a bit more,” he reflected.

“I probably couldn’t have asked for a much better return. I’ve hardly missed any training at all, I feel good, I feel quite strong.

“Maybe that time out gave me the opportunity to work on other things that will hopefully benefit me in the latter stages of my career.”