By Glenn Mason
Stephen Hunt has defended the style of play employed by the Republic of Ireland as they stand on the brink of qualification for Euro 2012.
Watch Republic of Ireland v Estonia live on RTÉ TWO and www.rte.ie on Tuesday 15 November from 7.00pm. </notforsyndication>
Ireland are in a commanding position after Friday's first leg play-off over Estonia in Tallinn, with a dominant performance leading to a 4-0 victory.
However, the Wolves winger was clearly annoyed with some former players working in the media who have criticised Giovanni Trapattoni's direct methods.
He made comparisons with Ireland's long-ball and put 'em under pressure tactics under Jack Charlton, which brought some success but were not universally popular.
"To all of the lads that are bitter towards us, 4-0 away from home is not bad I suppose," bristled Hunt.
"I'll never be bitter though. I'll always be encouraging Ireland players to do well and not trying to hold on to their jobs by being bitter.
"For a start, Messi and Ronaldo don't have Irish passports. We have some good players, very good players.
"We have players that are well capable of producing a bit of magic and can play in the Premier League. Aiden McGeady plays in the Russian League. We are hard to beat and we will be hard to beat come Tuesday.
"When we qualified for the first World Cup, Packie Bonner couldn't get the ball far enough down the pitch. Our style of play has developed since then.
"We no longer hit is as high as we can, but we do have a direct style of play. We have good effective players at it. Kevin Doyle, (Jonathan) Walters, Longy (Shane Long), my bro (Noel) to a certain degree and Besty (Leon Best) has been doing well in that style of play.
"It can come across sometimes from the media that we don't have a fancy style of play, but we never had. Never, ever had. We had Liam Brady, who was talented. Apart from that, you tell me who has been Ronaldo or Messi for the last 20 years in Ireland?
"There has been no-one that good. (Jason) McAteer? Good player. Works hard. No Messi or Ronaldo. Talks like them, but no Messi or Ronaldo."
Hunt also felt it was his duty to support his vastly experienced manager who has turned around the international team's fortunes and made them difficult to beat.
He said: "I think we all enjoy winning and not getting beat very often no matter what team you play in.
"His manner speaks volumes. When he comes in to the room you automatically sit up straight. He has a presence about him and an aura about him. I would like him to stay and I'm sure all the players would too.
"The manager hasn't got it wrong. He picked Coxy to play in front of Longy the last time, who was on fire, and then he picked Walters to play in front of Coxy this time. He has picked the right team, at the right time, all the time. That speaks volumes too.
"There is a lot of togetherness now. The France game probably brought us closer together. Any team that has qualified with Ireland has always seemed to have a good team spirit. I think we are pretty strong together. That is what you need for a good team."
Although qualification is almost secure, Hunt was keen to show respect for Estonia ahead of Tuesday's second leg at the Aviva Stadium and called on his team-mates to "finish the job".
He said: "The last thing we want is Estonia scoring two goals in the first half an hour and we are a nervous wreck. We have got to be on it and determined and focused on winning the game.
"We are at home and we have a responsibility to the big crowd we have coming to the game to put on a performance and hopefully we can do that.
"They will be wounded animals so we have got to make sure we are up for it. With the atmosphere in the ground on the night I'm sure it is going to be electric. We'll be focused. We have a good tendency to come good on big games, so hopefully it will be the same.
"They have earned the right to be in the play-offs like we have. So we have got to go and make sure we do the job."
If, as expected, Ireland finish the job, Hunt, despite his initial caution, will be the man in the middle leading the celebratory sing song.