Two years ago, Chris Turner had a trial with Rangers — now he hoping to down Italian heavyweights Juventus as a Hoop.
The Northern Ireland under-21 midfielder, who had spells with Partick and Dundalk en route to Tallaght, has been instrumental in Shamrock Rovers’ 11-game unbeaten run which sees them a point off the top of the League of Ireland table and enjoying a glamorous run in the Europa League.
Former Linfield striker Tommy Stewart bagged the winning goal for Michael O’Neill’s men against Israeli outfit Bnei Yehuda in the previous round, clinching what will be the biggest night of Ballymoney man Turner’s career.
“For a week, the entire squad has been buzzing with excitement waiting to face Juventus,” said Turner.
“Without a doubt this is the biggest night of my career and I will have loads of my family in Dublin to see the match.
“A lot of people have come out of the woodwork looking for tickets and I know the rest of the lads have been the same.
“Of course we have had a chat about who might get Alessandro Del Piero or David Trezeguet’s shirt but I’ll worry about that after the match — we just want to do ourselves justice against some of the best players in the world.
“It would be foolish for us to go out and try to pass the ball around them, they’d end up running rings around us and being able to pick us off at will.
“I’m sure the plan will be to keep things tight and try to frustrate them for as long as possible.
“We’ll have a great crowd behind us and the plan has to be to leave ourselves in a position where we go to Turin with the tie still interesting.”
The Northern Ireland connection in Tallaght has been helping to establish the Hoops at one of the best sides in the land.
Turner, Stewart and former Blues keeper Alan Mannus have been earning rave reviews and will be hoping the exposure a clash with Juve will provide, will give Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington something to think about ahead of the friendly against Montenegro on August 11.
“I was disappointed when I didn’t at least get a call before the summer tour but that is up to the Nigel Worthington,” added Turner.
“I don’t think the League of Ireland gets the recognition it deserves because there are a lot of great players here.
“You only have to look at what Paddy McCourt, Niall McGinn and Keith Fahey have gone on to do to see that.
“Hopefully, myself and the rest of the Northern Ireland lads can make an impression on Nigel Worthington but doing well for Rovers is my main priority.
“And having watched Cliftonville and Linfield do so well in Europe, I think the boys at Rovers have been given even more incentive.”