Chris Baird remains upbeat

RASHARKIN'S Chris Baird refused to be too downbeat following his Fulham side's Europa Cup final defeat to Spanish giants Atletico Madrid last Wednesday evening.

Cheered on in the stadium in Hamburg by a travelling group of friends and family from Rasharkin, Baird’s side battled throughout the gruelling 120 minute tie, only to be outdone by a late winner from ex-Manchester United player Diego Forlan.

But rather than mull over the defeat, Baird said it was important to take the positives from the Cottagers’ fairytale season.

He said: “We had a great run in the competition.

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“It was a fantastic achievement for us to reach the final and we should all be proud of that.

“Of course, it was disappointing to lose on the night.

“I thought we played really well and matched Atletico, so to lose to a late goal was hard to take, but we should all hold our heads high at how well we did in Europe this season.”

Fulham’s appearance in the final of the prestigious competition capped off a remarkable season for a man whose future looked to lie elsewhere less than a year ago.

Often overlooked in the early stages of the campaign, Baird continued to go about his business behind the scenes and grabbed his chance with both hands when Roy Hodgson turned to him.

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Despite being suspended for the club’s semi-final victory over Hamburg, Hodgson gave Baird the nod when it came to naming his starting eleven for the final - a clear indication of the manager’s faith in the former Southampton player.

“The good thing was the manager told me that if I got my chance and played well I would stay in the side and that is how it worked out,” said Baird.