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Legend Johnny feted on Late Late

LEGENDARY footballer and Herald columnist John Giles was honoured in a special tribute by sport and TV stars on the Late Late Show.

Eamon Dunphy, Ray Houghton and Eddie Grey were among the former soccer stars to salute the TV pundit last night on the eve of his 70th birthday.

The former Leeds United player joined Ryan Tubridy to discuss the most memorable moments in his career -- as he launches his new autobiography, John Giles: A Football Man -- My Autobiography.



Disaster

John told Ryan how he was a contender for the job of Irish soccer team manager before Jack Charlton won the post, and he was then faced with the challenge of criticising Jack on RTE.

"I was a contender for the job and I wasn't the most popular guy in Ireland at the time. I was a terrible media man, and Jack got the job and I now had to comment on Jack as a manager."

He also described the 1958 Munich air disaster, when 23 people connected to the Manchester United team were killed along with members of the media.

"We were told there'd been an accident and there were no details at that time. I didn't think it was a disaster.

"The news came then that some of the lads had been killed and some journalists had been killed as well. It was a bit like the Kennedy assassination, 'where were you that day', it was huge."

To celebrate his achievements on and off the pitch, Liam Brady, Bill O'Herlihy, and some of his former team-mates at Leeds United also paid tribute to him last night.

Eamon Dunphy said: "He was kind to me as a kid, and he was a big star, a very, very nice man and a caring man."

Presenter O'Herlihy explained that he was very nervous when he discovered that John Giles would be joining him on RTE because of his vast and accurate knowledge of sport.

"My heart sank. Eamon and I had done the show for about ten years together but John was iconic...but he took endless trouble to educate me about the game."

The proceeds of Giles' book will go to the John Giles Foundation through the FAI, which was set up in aid of disadvantaged children in sport.

FAI chief John Delaney said: "His contribution to Irish football is immeasurable.

"He brought a professionalism into the background of Irish football that wasn't there before."

"The proceeds of the book go to the foundation...a wonderful gesture."

Uefa President Michel Platini paid tribute to John via video-link, saying that he can still remember the first time he played against him.

And former Ireland great Ray Houghton said he had great respect for the criticism John gave on RTE.

"When you got the seal of approval from John Giles, you knew you'd done well. He'd tell you the brutal truth."

hnews@herald.ie


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