Mark Travers has moved onwards and upwards after that tough night in Belgrade.
Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of that night, a 3-2 defeat to Serbia in Ireland’s opening 2022 World Cup qualifier.
Stephen Kenny turned to the inexperienced Travers, who was on loan at Swindon from Bournemouth, after injury ruled out Darron Randolph – Ireland’s established first choice at this point – and also Caoimhín Kelleher.
Travers was 21 and making his third senior Ireland appearance, and his inexperience proved costly with the score at 1-1 when substitute Alekansdar Mitrovic lobbed the keeper from 35 yards.
Despite his excellent form for promotion-chasing Championship side Bournemouth since then, the Maynooth man hasn’t played between the posts for his country since.
“When stuff like that happens as a footballer, you want to go out and show what you can do and that’s what I tried to do,” Travers said.
“It was obviously a disappointing night but I tried to get my head down, work as hard as I could and then the next pre-season, I tried to get myself in the position to get myself as a number one and be solid and focused.”
He was abused on social media afterwards but he ignored the noise and, while Gavin Bazunu seized his opportunity to make the Ireland number jersey his own, Travers got on with the job at club level.
This season he has made 36 appearances for Bournemouth.
“Luckily I have a good family behind me, and they gave me help and support to get through it,” he recalled.
“I hadn’t been on social media or anything, I just tried to do what was best for me, to focus on the football side of things, definitely.”
Travers understood that he had to push on when Bournemouth signed Norway international Orjan Nyland, a keeper who had experience in England with Norwich and Aston Villa, last August.
“In pre-season it was one of those situations where I knew as a young goalkeeper I hadn’t had a lot of games and experience,” the 22-year-old said.
“I knew the goal as a club was to try and push for promotion, so I knew there would be competition coming in.
“At the start of the season it was just me there at the time and I got my chance to play.
“I tried to do everything I could to establish myself and to try and play every game.
“Thankfully I’ve been able to do that so far and I’m grateful to the manager for showing faith in me and trusting me to play the games.”
As for the situation at international level, with Travers trying to get game time in a battle for selection with Bazunu and Kelleher, he knows has to be patient and take his next chance when it comes.
“That’s up to the manager to decide,” he said. “We’re all different goalkeepers in our own ways and it’s about learning from each other, and helping each other develop.
“We’re all still at a young age and we have so much to learn from and grow into as well. That’s what we’re trying to do.
“It’s an unusual situation to have that with everyone so young, it’ll be an interesting few years ahead I think, the way they are going as well it’ll be exciting for Irish goalkeeping definitely.
“It’s one of those things where you just have to deal with it and try to give yourself the best opportunity.
“I love representing my country, so coming into camp is a great honour and that will never change, no matter what position I’m playing.
“I’ll just keep my head down and help whoever is playing, and work as hard as I can in training and help the lads around the camp.”