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Saturday 25 February 2017

'Sam for England job,' urges priest who brought him here

Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

Sam Allardyce saved Sunderland from relegation last season Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Sam Allardyce saved Sunderland from relegation last season Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

The Irish priest who gave 'Big' Sam Allardyce his first-ever job in football management has urged the English Football Association (FA) to appoint him as the new national coach.

Fr Joe Young was the chairman of Limerick FC when he contacted Mr Allardyce in 1991 and asked him to come on board as manager.

Sam Allardyce early in his management career
Sam Allardyce early in his management career

"I have always had the greatest admiration for him," Fr Young told the Irish Independent. He was delighted to hear that the former Limerick manager was now in the running for the top England job.

Fr Young recalled that when he contacted Mr Allardyce to offer him the Limerick job, the former Bolton Wanderers player didn't believe the offer was genuine and hung up the phone.

Read more: Sam Allardyce's managerial record

"I contacted him to become manager, but he ended up playing as well," said the priest.

Fr Joe Young
Fr Joe Young

Following England's humiliation at Euro 2016 - crashing out 2-1 to Iceland in the round of 16 - manager Roy Hodgson immediately stepped down. Allardyce has now been named as the favourite to be his replacement.

Earlier this week, Sunderland gave the English FA permission to talk to him and urged it to bring a "swift resolution to the matter".

Fr Young urged the FA to give him the job - which would make him the first ever former League of Ireland manager to manage the English national team.

"I certainly would feel that he would make an enormous contribution (to England)," he said.

"I found him to be very, very focused. He knew what he needed to do and all he needed was the resources to do it."

Read more: Sunderland hoping Football Association make swift decision over Sam Allardyce

Mr Allardyce is still popular in Limerick, having taken the team to the top of the League of Ireland first division in his season there.

"If we had the players, we could have had a shot at Europe," Fr Young said.

"He never did things by half measures. When he was in the dressing room, one of the things he put into the players would be to take the support they were being given (from fans)."

At the time, down-to-earth Big Sam used to help Fr Young ask local businesses for money as the club was struggling financially.

Fr Young said that when he worked at West Ham, Allardyce asked him to be a club chaplain, and he hoped that a similar offer would be extended if he got the England job.

Fr Joe added: "It's time he had a little visit to Lourdes with me and as a result of the spiritual experience, his players will walk on water for him!"

Irish Independent

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