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Conor Hourihane: Fear of failure is driving me to success with Aston Villa

By Matt Maher | Aston Villa | Published:

Conor Hourihane believes a fear of failure and becoming the ‘nearly man’ has helped him reach the Premier League with Villa.

Conor Hourihane (centre) celebrates his goal at Norwich.

The Republic of Ireland international netted his first-ever top-flight goal in last Saturday’s 5-1 win at Norwich.

Hourihane has now scored in each of England’s top four divisions, following a professional career which has seen him rise from the foot of League Two with Plymouth.

Now a key figure in the Irish team under Mick McCarthy, Hourihane attributes his success to hard work and claims the fear of not making it is continuing to drive him on.

“I wasn’t the most talented player in any of the teams I played in,” he told the Irish Times. “Plymouth, probably not. Barnsley, probably not; going back to Douglas Hall, Bandon, Cork City. I probably wasn’t the most talented but I definitely worked the hardest.

“I always wanted to, probably [because of] the fear of failure, of not making it, and having to go back home and being that nearly man.

“It’s still there now, even though I’m playing international level and in the Premier League. To this day, I’m always worried about that person behind me. That’s what drives me on.”

Hourihane, expected to start Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Georgia on Saturday, worked his way back to the top having failed to make the grade at Sunderland.

Since joining Villa in January, 2017 he has played a key role in helping the club back to the Premier League.

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“I’ve failed loads of times,” he added. “It defines you as a character when you fail, how you bounce back. Some people shrink and don’t fancy failing again. I’m not scared to fail again.

“If I do, I come back again.

“That’s probably tougher when you’re younger. But support from family and friends around you [matters], and having that little bit of drive, wanting to achieve something, and never saying, you know ‘I’m not going to make it,’ or whatever.

“I’ve had more tough days than good days in football, that’s for sure but I’ve always had that self-belief. It’s just something I’ve had in my armoury over the years. It’s probably a fantastic one to have as a lot of people can’t overcome the failures and the setbacks.”

Matt Maher

By Matt Maher
@mjmarr_star

Chief sports writer for the Express & Star.

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