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Former Harbour View goalie in fitness race for Spurs match

Published:Thursday | September 29, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Kwesi Mugisa, Staff Reporter

It's a race against time for former Harbour View goalkeeper Ryan Thompson, as he bids for a spot in Shamrock Rovers' starting line-up against English outfit Tottenham Hotspur in today's Europa League clash, a match he describes as the biggest of his career.

Thompson was a standout for the League of Ireland champions, despite a 0-3 loss to Russian outfit Rubin Kazan, in their previous Euroleague encounter. In fact, the scoreline could have been much worse were it not for the custodian's penalty save against striker Rubin Nelson Valdez.

However, that is where Thompson's problems began, as he got injured during the act of saving the shot, but freakishly, during exuberant celebration by his teammates.

"The injury happened in the Rubin game. I got back up off the ground after saving the penalty, everyone was so excited as I'd saved it and someone pulled my head down when they were congratulating me, so I strained a muscle in my back and in my chest," Thompson was quoted as saying in the Ireland Evening Herald (www.herald.ie).

"It's still not completely right, but it's getting better and I'll see how it feels when we get to London."

It has been a long road for the player who was once the main man between the sticks for the Stars of the East, before taking up a scholarship at the University of Tampa in Florida. After a summer in the Premier Development League, with the Portland Phoenix, Thompson earned a two-week trial with the Rovers and has not looked back since.

This season, the young goalkeeper took over from goaltender Alan Mannus, who moved to the Scottish Premier League. Now eager to make his mark, he makes no bones about the fact that he is desperate to be fit for the encounter, especially with a special viewer expected to tune in for the encounter.

Plenty of Jamaican support

"I think this would be the biggest game of my career, certainly the most high profile. I have been getting so many texts from home. Even my mom will be watching, and she never watches my games. I know I'll have so much support back in Jamaica for this game," he said.

"It's a dream for me to go and play in a game like this, so I just hope I can be fit to play."

Thompson knows that the match could also serve as an excellent opportunity to showcase his skills, and while he is grateful and contented to be in the Irish League, he admits he would jump at the opportunity to play at a higher level.

"I am blessed to be here in Dublin playing for Shamrock Rovers. I always put my best foot forward, whatever jersey I am wearing. I want to play at the highest level and if I get to play against Spurs then it will be a good opportunity for me to show what I can do.

"I remember people like Fuller (Ricardo), Burton (Deon) and Earle (Robbie) playing in the English Premier League. Everybody in Jamaica followed them and it would be a blessing for me to play at that level, or in the Bundesliga or in the Spanish League," Thompson said.