Brady can lead Ireland to bright new dawn - Quinn
Published 29/07/2016 | 02:30
Inspiration comes in many forms and Niall Quinn played with his fair share of players who epitomised that down through the years, but when he looks at the current Ireland team, there is one emerging star that stands out from the rest.
To class Robbie Brady as an 'emerging star' may seem a little harsh, given that he made his professional debut four years ago, but the Dublin native is still only 24 and undoubtedly has his best years ahead of him.
The importance of Brady's two goals in France last month was obvious but in Quinn's eyes, the former Manchester United youth is leading the new generation of players coming through.
Brady may not be the same sort of leader as Roy Keane or Robbie Keane but his performances in a green jersey have driven the standards of those around him.
Speculation surrounding Brady's future at club level has understandably been rife since the Euros and although Norwich have placed a hefty fee on his head, one thing is for certain, he belongs at a higher standard than the Championship.
"The spirit was unquestionably higher than the last tournament and Martin's (O'Neill) strength in motivation came to the fore and everybody bought into it. A lot of guys are heroes now because of it," Quinn reflected.
"None more so perhaps than Robbie Brady, who epitomised everything that we hoped would be in our Irish team in ability, skill level and eye for goal.
"His goals record is speaking for itself right now but not only that, his ability and his lack of fear, aligned to his skill-set, makes him stand out.
"And when others around you buy into that feeling throughout the squad, you get players who start to make real names for themselves.
"(Jeff) Hendrick being the other one who just took it by the scruff of the neck and played a tournament with no fear, showed great energy levels.
"He's got an awful lot, Robbie. I love the whole approach, his joy. He almost felt honoured to score that goal. He didn't shove it in our faces, like Ronaldo might do when he scores a great goal.
"Robbie knew the second they both went in, the Italian one obviously and then the penalty. . . he kind of knew what it meant to everyone and that shows to me that he has a hell of a future with us and he's a great player for us."
Brady's creativity - with his wand of a left foot - was a constant threat for Ireland and Quinn believes that although he is comfortable playing at left-back, he is at his most effective when he is pushed further forward.
"He's too creative for that really," he said. "That said, I don't think he would complain that, in the group coming up, if Martin asked him to play there and give us something on that side.
"He's maturing so well that I think he will slot into that no problem. It would be great to see him play up top, delivering balls, threading passes through.
"Manchester United was a big help to him. It must have been drilled into him to the point that fear just really goes out the window and that you are good enough."
Hendrick is another who impressed Quinn and he is also strongly linked with a move to the top flight.
The Derby County midfielder is set to go on trial in court in June 2017 for an alleged incident of violent disorder (in 2013) but Quinn doesn't believe that will deter potential suitors.
"I wouldn't have thought so," he said. "If I was at a club - at Sunderland for instance - and we thought that there was a chance of getting him, there are clubs trying to get him I believe unsuccessfully, I don't think it would come into it as such.
"I think they have to convince themselves that it was a not a one-off in the summer. I think that's probably where a lot of the decision makers at clubs are on potential transfers.
"I am surprised that somebody hasn't taken a punt and taken a chance on him at this point at the kind of levels that he has been valued at."