Celtic target Trevor Carson hoping for Northern Ireland cap reward
'LET'S see what we could have bought' was a game recently played by Trevor Carson and his fiancée – and by Celtic at the weekend, ironically.
Ironically, because the Hoops tried to sign the Motherwell goalkeeper in the January transfer window and he then denied them victory on Sunday in the SPL with some fine saves.
Recalling the rejected bids from the Scottish champions, Carson said: "It was quite surreal for me because I've never been in that position. I've been a lower league keeper over the years where your contract's up and you go and find another club.
"To have a club like Celtic after you, obviously you walk about a foot taller, the lads in training are talking about. It happened so quick.
"We had a game on the Wednesday night, the night the [transfer] window shut. You're human. I was trying to focus on the game but there's still part of you checking Google, Twitter to see what people are saying.
"I'm back now, I'm definitely in a stronger position. It didn't happen, it might be once in a lifetime, I might never get the chance again to play for a club like Celtic, who knows?
"Two months later I've taken all the positives out of it, it's helped boost my profile. Someone like Brendan Rodgers interested in you, you've got to be flattered about it.
"There are times when you can be too modest, you have to take positives out of things. I've definitely looked at that situation and thought you must be doing something right if clubs like that are looking at you. It was great to be linked with a club like Celtic."
A suggested comparison with how Jonny Evans felt about not getting a move to either Manchester City or Arsenal is met with a wry laugh:
"Jonny's already on £100,000 a week! It's different for me! Me and my missus, for weeks after we played a game of `Let's see what we could have bought! Let's see where we could have gone on holiday!'
"Obviously I haven't earned big money, I've been at lower-league clubs. That's another situation where I'm turning 30, it would have been life-changing money for me and my family.
"Football's such a short career as well. You've got to look out for yourself and your family. Situations like that, that was another part in it for me. It was disappointing but it didn't happen.
"When the window was shut, trying to explain to her, the window's actually shut now! She was saying `It might still happen today' and I said `No, that's it, done! So put all those catalogues back!'
"Once it was done, I just got my head around it straightaway and that was me moving on. I took the positives and I found myself working a bit harder from them because I thought it might happen again so be ready and give yourself the best chance."
Carson is certainly not motivated by money. Indeed, he revealed, rather remarkably, that he took a pay cut to move to Motherwell from Hartlepool, despite the latter's relegation from England's League Two last year.
"It's incredible how close I came to signing for Hartlepool. It would have been an unambitious move for me to stay at Hartlepool but I've got a young daughter down in Newcastle, it was in my comfort zone to stay.
"They were offering me a lot more than Motherwell. I took a wage cut to go up there. But I was driving into Hartlepool's training ground to sign a new contract with the new manager…and something just came over me.
"I just decided I need to push this Motherwell thing through and thankfully I did and things have worked out brilliantly. It's been all positive."
The motivation was his desire to get senior cap with Northern Ireland. The recall to the squad for Saturday's friendly against South Korea is a step in that direction:
"Obviously it's great to be back after being out of the picture for a while. It's probably the main reason I went up to Scotland, to get back in Michael [O'Neill]'s mind. He said that to me when I was playing in League Two, that I needed to be playing at a higher standard.
"I went there and did quite well….It's been brilliant, probably even exceeded my own expectations how things have gone, getting to cup finals.
"When I first signed there I thought it was going to be a battle against relegation, a cup run was not even in our minds. We've done brilliantly, the whole team has.
"I've managed to do well myself, especially in the big games against the Old Firm and the semi-finals of the cups.
"People have said to me before I went the platform is massive if you do do well and I didn't even understand how big it has been. The limelight you get up there has been brilliant, it's really boosted my profile and brought me into Michael's plans. Everything's been positive."
Carson has another incentive to secure his first senior cap – the mural in his hometown. It features past NI internationals from the village, David Healy, Terry Cochrane, and Hugh Henry Davey.
"They always said they'd leave a space for the next future international…
It's just rubbed salt into the wounds because it's at the top of my mum's estate, so I pass it every time I go home. You have to go down the hill and look at it.
"My missus is asking what's that mural!? If I have to go up and paint myself on to it, I will, honestly!...
"For me I wouldn't care [about being on that mural], just as long as I get a cap it would be an honour.
"Me and my family joke I'm cursed when it comes to Northern Ireland. I just feel like any time I have been given a little chance I've had an injury…
"Getting a cap for your country is the ultimate and I still haven't got that…. You look at others that have…when times weren't so good and it does eat away.
"For me it's just been a matter of staying patient, keep doing what I've been doing. I've always believed that it will come. I feel like I'm as close as I've been to it now as I've ever been, so fingers crossed."