Maturing Robbie Brady learning from United mistakes
Published 02/09/2015 | 02:30
When the late, great Manchester United scout Joe Corcoran passed away during the summer, Robbie Brady made sure to find room in his schedule to get back to Dublin for the funeral.
He owed a lot to Corcoran, who spotted Brady's talent at St Kevin's Boys and was central in the process of convincing the in-demand youngster to choose United over the range of options at his disposal.
The fact that he now resides in the Premier League justifies that faith. In fact, Brady is the only home-grown talent under the age of 25 that is currently plying his trade at the highest level.
However, he is doing so in the colours of Norwich rather than at United and, as he reflected on his journey yesterday, the converted left full acknowledged that he simply wasn't ready for the world he encountered as a teenager at Old Trafford.
Gary Neville suggested as much in the Sky studios on Sunday, observing that the Irish youth lacked the requisite drive and focus to make an impact in his younger days.
Neville praised a new-found maturity that was evident in the player's words as he agreed with that assessment.
"It took me a while to get to grips with what it really took," admitted the 23-year-old. "I was still in awe when I went over. I'd been watching these great players since I was a baby, the best players in the world and then you find yourself in training and eating with them day in, day out. It's a good learning curve and seeing how it was done properly has definitely served me well in my career.
"The whole football life, it wouldn't have been 24 hours for me. I was thinking about it, but it wasn't as intense.
"I think my time there and the loan spell at Hull helped me grow up and get my head around what it took. I always wanted to play at the highest level but getting that in your mind and knowing what it takes was a big thing for me. I feel like I'm on the road now, I know what I want and I'm setting goals for myself. Hopefully, I can keep on going."
The percentages prove that he is one of the lucky ones, the successful ones. Every member of his first youth team at United was the cream of the crop in their locality. Many have since fallen by the wayside.
"When you go over there, everyone is the best player, you know? I wasn't used to that. Some players have fallen to a lot lower levels than I have but that's it, that's the game. Some people do go missing.
"You have to stay hungry," he continued, explaining his need to embrace a positive mentality when he eventually moved to Hull on a permanent basis. "You can't be thinking, 'Oh I'm not at Man United'. If you have that mindset then you can only go one way and that's down.
"I wanted to keep doing well for myself, to show I could play at this level. I don't really get into this thing of proving people right or wrong but I've kept in contact with people from United and they've said to me that I've done well. My ambition was to play at the highest level and now I'm here I'll keep on trying to further my career."
That desire that drove his determination to keep the graph heading in the right direction when Hull suffered relegation in May. His switch to Norwich turned into a minor saga, but Brady is grateful to Steve Bruce for ultimately respecting his wishes.
"I had a chat with him and said if there was an opportunity there, I'd want to continue playing in the Premier League. He said if the offer was right, he wouldn't stand in my way." A figure in the region of £7 million was agreed.
"I was over the buzz, I was buzzing," he enthuses. "I spoke to Wes Hoolahan and he had a lot of good things about the place. And, obviously, he's been there so long that he's helped me settle in well."
The initial unavailability of Martin Olsson means that Brady has started work under Alex Neil as a left-back, similar to how he is deployed by Martin O'Neill. He remains on the fence about his long-term deployment.
"I'm not sure," he admitted. "I'm not saying this is going to be my position and it's not really up to me. I grew up as an attack-minded player so I've had to change my ways.
"But if I'm asked to play somewhere, then I'll play there and the more I play there the more familiar you are with it. I'm happy with it so far and in the Premier League, you're testing yourself against the best players. It's perfect coming into these international games."
Brady is taking the glass-half-full view of Ireland's prospects, believing there are twists and turns to come if six points can be accrued from the Gibraltar and Georgia tests.
"If we do our job, and get these wins then we'll see where we are," he mused, "Scotland are ahead at the minute but it's not necessarily going to finish like that. I don't think it's going to be plain sailing."
In football, as Brady now knows well, it rarely is.