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O'Driscoll couldn't resist Jurgen's call


Gary O’Driscoll

Gary O’Driscoll

Gary O’Driscoll

There is an 'Irish mafia' ensconced at Arsenal, working in strength and conditioning and sports medicine at the club.

The longest serving of those is club doctor Gary O'Driscoll and, as such, it will have proven difficult for him to contemplate bidding farewell to that familiar seat in the dug-out, just behind the manager, in which he has assumed his carefully observant position on hundreds of occasions.

Only a remarkable offer would have tempted him; then again, when it is being proffered by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, the ease with which he soothed his reluctance reveals itself a tad more clearly.

If it has taken a breath-taking invitation for him to walk away from Arsenal, this would dove-tail neatly with the manner of his arrival there, too.

In 2009, Arsene Wenger was as revered a figure in world football as Klopp is today.

Who else might have ever prompted him to ponder leaving the nascent Irish Grand Slam tilt as team doctor under Declan Kidney only Wenger, a bidding which even a Manchester United fan couldn't possibly refuse. O'Driscoll was also leaving behind a rather more famous relation; his cousin, Brian, also incidentally a United fan, the man who would play a pivotal role in that remarkable rugby campaign of early 2009.

By then, Gary O'Driscoll's life had changed forever. It needed something significant to wrench O'Driscoll away from rugby, in general, and Ireland, in particular.

Ironically, his departure coincided with the country's greatest triumph. "I did the first three games, then I had to make a commitment to Arsenal," he said. "For that final game in Cardiff, I was sitting on the bench in Newcastle. I never saw or heard a minute of it.

"It was sad, but I could picture the dressing-room, the fierce pride that would have been there. I felt I played a very small part in it."

Under the esteemed Dr James Robson from Scotland, O'Driscoll went on the 2005 and 2009 tours but he was forced to witness the premature departure of his cousin from both.

O'Driscoll's status protected him from the post-Wenger cull but ironically increased his value elsewhere; Klopp's keen interest reflects his eminence.