O'Brien reveals why he agreed to fund Trapattoni
DENIS O'Brien has spoken for the first time about why he decided to finance the appointment of former Irish soccer coach Giovanni Trapattoni.
In an interview to be published in the Sunday Independent tomorrow, the billionaire businessman said the idea came after watching Ireland suffer a defeat.
"I think we were beaten by Norway or Cyprus 4-0," Mr O'Brien says. "I rang up Kieran Mulvey [the chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission) and I said, 'Kieran, do you have John Delaney's number?'"
Mr O'Brien (pictured) adds that he "had Eddie Jordan yakking in my ear every five minutes" during the call.
The call eventually led to a meeting which in turn led to an offer of extra money if the FAI wanted to appoint an experienced European coach. I didn't have a view on who they were going to employ because that would be really dangerous.
"All I said was, 'Look, I'm good for it if you need the help.' He came back to me and said, 'We're going to go with someone'. "Then he told me Trapattoni and I said, 'Jesus, that's heavy'," Mr O'Brien recalls.
The FAI later hired Trapattoni and assistant manager, Marco Tardelli. "It was a good combination," Mr O'Brien says of the 2008 move. He then agreed to part-fund the wages of Trapattoni and Tardelli.
Mr O'Brien also praises the team's new management, saying that Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane are a good combination.
The latter was a "left field" appointment but is "pure box office". Talking of his love of soccer, Mr O'Brien says he wasn't a good player as a child but now loves the game. "The craic is just great. The people you meet. The slagging is lightning. The same kind of fun as rugby but different," he says.
See independent.ie on Sunday and the Sunday Independent for more.