Long was emerging as a serious contender to claim a starting spot in the Ireland side mid-way through the Euro 2012 qualifiers, but a dip in form coincided with some injury and health problems that mean he is heading into the final this summer as first choice striking replacement.
The most worrying of his health issues saw this speedy striker undergo a series of tests earlier this year after he complained of chest pains and the condition known as pericarditis, a swelling of fibres around the heart, was diagnosed. Doctors have assured him that it will not affect his football career and he will be eager to make the most of his big chance in his first major tournament this summer.
“Any time you have an issue in the heart area you fear the worst and I was so relieved when the doctor said I didn’t have too much of a problem,” says the former Reading striker. “I have waited a long time to get a chance to take part in a major tournament with Ireland it would have been so hard to miss out on Euro 2012.”