Aiden McGeady aims to maintain his 2010 FIFA World Cup South AfricaTM "dream" by helping Republic of Ireland beat Italy in Dublin tomorrow. The Celtic winger has played in countless cup finals, Old Firm matches and UEFA Champions League games, but he admits the Croke Park fixture will rank alongside anything he has experienced.
The Irish will secure a play-off spot with victory over the Italians, and move one point behind the Group 8 leaders ahead of Wednesday's final set of fixtures. "It will probably be one of the biggest games of my career," said McGeady, 23.
"If we win, the group is wide open and even a draw almost guarantees us second place in the group. But it's a game we want to win, especially because we are at home.
"So far, we're unbeaten in the group and a win would be unbelievable. Italy are still world champions and it's going to be tough, but we're all looking forward to the challenge.
"Reaching a World Cup would be unbelievable. Growing up, it's something you dream of. You want to test yourself against the best players on the biggest stage and hopefully that dream can come true for me."
Republic of Ireland have lost home friendlies to Poland and Australia but are unbeaten in competitive action under Giovanni Trapattoni, and McGeady aims to keep that record up. The Irish, who sit five points ahead of third-placed Bulgaria, host Montenegro on Wednesday in their final qualifier.
"Irish domestic football isn't massive, but there will be a lot of coverage of these two games and the papers will be dominated by what's going on in the games and training," McGeady continued. "It's always like that, but this time it will be even more intense because we have put ourselves in a good position to go and qualify.
"Croke Park has a huge capacity and it will be an unbelievable occasion for us in the two games. My one wish is that we go and do ourselves justice against Italy and Montenegro. Our recent friendly results haven't been great, but we're unbeaten in qualification and we want to keep that record up."