Former Norwich City and Spurs star Paul McVeigh says the Republic of Ireland’s success in reaching the Euro 2012 finals could widen the gap between Giovanni Trapattoni’s side and Northern Ireland on the international stage.
Ex-Northern Ireland player McVeigh, who was just five years old when the country featured in the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain, said: “I don’t think the Republic reaching the European Championships will have an immediate detrimental effect on Northern Ireland.
“However, if success continued to go the Republic’s way in the finals and in the future, it could prove harmful to Northern Ireland’s recruitment of players.
“More and more Northern Ireland-born players may see the Republic as a provider of success at international level and every player wants to play in the World Cup finals and other major competitions.
“I think if the option to play for the Republic is always there, then success could determine where a lot of players want to play.
“It’s a unique situation — but the same a club player often finds himself in when deciding which club he thinks will bring him more success.”
While reaching the finals will have a positive economic and psychological influence on the Republic next summer, McVeigh (34) does not believe Trapattoni’s (pictured) men can repeat the shock 1992 success of minnows Greece.
He added: “I can’t see the Republic reaching the semi-finals or the quarter-finals. It would be great to see them have a good run in it but I doubt there is another Greece-like upset on the cards.
“On paper, the Republic have a decent squad but I doubt it’s good enough to go all the way and win the tournament.
“Saying that, success of any nature next summer could pave the way for more in future qualifying campaigns.”