Thursday 27 October 2016

'It's appallingly sad, he was very important to me': Brian O'Driscoll remembers Anthony Foley

Published 17/10/2016 | 20:08

Brian O'Driscoll has revealed how Anthony Foley helped him settle into the role of Ireland captain as he looked back on their friendship tonight.

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Foley tragically passed away over the weekend at just 42, with O'Driscoll appearing on the Off The Ball show on Newstalk to share his memories of the Munster legend.

Read more: 'When we got the news, all the players stayed together': Munster stars left reeling by Anthony Foley's tragic death

O'Driscoll was appointed as Ireland captain at just 23 years of age in 2002, when Foley was one of the senior players in the team. The move to make someone so young the skipper of the national team surprised many, but O'Driscoll says that Foley made his transition into the role easier with his guidance.

"It's appallingly sad," O'Driscoll said.

"We played an awful lot of games, he was very important to me. I think I was lucky that I got his respect early.

Read more: 'Our anguish is bottomless' - Anthony Foley's family thank fans for support in these 'darkest days'

"And then he became very important to me from a captaincy point of view. I was given the captaincy, probably in place of him when Keith Wood was injured prior to the World Cup in 2003 and I was chosen by Eddie (O'Sullivan). He could have thrown the toys out of the cot but he did anything but. He became a very important leader within the team, helping me along. I think that early relationship really benefited me in that we did have mutual respect."

O'Driscoll also revealed how he first heard the news, which filtered through from a whatsapp group he has with his BT colleagues.

“We’ve a BT Whatsapp group and I saw lots of them coming in but I didn’t see the original," he said.

"I just saw ‘terrible news’, ‘that’s awful’ and I just read from the bottom up to the top and my heart nearly jumped out of my chest when I read the opening one."

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