Sunday 21 January 2018

Leeds legend Revie was an inspiration and kindred spirit

Heff devoured smart ideas. As a student in Trinity College he discovered the basketball court to be a place where winning and losing was never left in the lap of the gods, but was usually determined by hours of plotting on paper and breaking the game down into the tiniest little pieces.

Heff also looked at what was happening in even more 'foreign' games, like soccer. Soccer was the GAA's 'public enemy No 1' and Heff had neither the time nor the inclination to give it a go himself. But he was not blind either.

Across the water, things were changing in English football. Young lads like himself, in many instances, were effecting that change.

Two years older than Heff, and playing for Manchester City, was a centre-forward called Don Revie, who would become one of the game's greatest managers, and would make Leeds United one of the most successful and controversial teams in the history of the English game.

In 1974, Revie (pictured below) and Heff would both lead Leeds and Dublin respectively, to their most talked-about championship successes.

Heff fancied himself as a player-manager, as Revie was in his early days with Leeds. Unofficially he was Dublin's player-manager for long spells in the fifties, and he heard and read extensively about how Revie was revolutionising English football by playing the centre-forward in a deeper-lying role than anybody else had ever imagined possible.

In 1955, Revie published his autobiography, 'Soccer's Happy Wanderer'.

He was British Footballer of the Year, and led Manchester City to the cup final for the first time in 20 years. A man would want to be blind, and mad, in Kevin Heffernan's estimation, not to see how Revie's battle plan could be fitted to Gaelic football.

Irish Independent

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