'I'm not retiring' - John Giles confirms he is leaving RTE
RTE have decided to cut John Giles from their schedule when his current deal ends after this summer’s European Championships.
But the hugely experienced commentator says rumours that he’s considering retirement are wide of the mark.
While he will no longer be part of RTE’s team of full-time football pundits, Giles has insisted retirement couldn’t be further from his mind.
He moved to “clear up” speculation about his future with the station.
In a statement to the Herald, he said: “I’ve been approached recently about my position with RTE after the Euros and I want to clear up any speculation.
“In my negotiations with RTE Head of Sport Ryle Nugent last year, he made it clear to me that this was to be the final year of my full-time engagement with RTE.
“He said that this was designed to allow him to continue the requirement to plan and prepare for the future.
“This was perfectly understandable to me and I signed the contract which finishes after the Euro 2016 final in France in good faith.
“But I want to make it perfectly clear that I’m not retiring or even thinking about it.”
In a statement released today, Ryle Nugent, the Group Head of Sport said it was a 'privilege' to work with Giles.
"I can confirm that John Giles will be leaving us at the end of our Euro 2016 coverage this summer. John has been an integral and much-loved part of our soccer coverage for over 30 years as well as a respected ambassador for the Irish football family as a whole.
"The Republic of Ireland's participation in this summer's tournament and RTÉ Sport's coverage is an apt occasion for John to bow out at the top and we wish him all the very best with his future endeavours.
"It's been a privilege to work alongside John through some of the most thrilling times for Irish soccer and his contribution to our programming has been phenomenal. "
Giles, a columnist with the Herald newspaper and a respected pundit with Newstalk, has been part of RTE sports programmes since the 1980s.
The RTE decision signals the beginning of the end of the celebrated three-way verbal jousting on RTE panels between Giles, Eamon Dunphy and Liam Brady, known affectionately as ‘The Three Amigos’.
The trio had also built a memorable rapport with the late Bill O’Herlihy, who once declared Giles to be “the best in the world” in his role as a television football pundit.
While many sports fans will be scratching their heads at the RTE move, Giles is looking to the future.
“I’ll be busy with my work for The Herald, Newstalk radio and I wouldn’t rule out television work in the future,” he said.
“I’ve had an amazing time working with Eamon, Liam and the late Bill O’Herlihy for many years and some fantastic memories.
“I’ll maintain a close relationship with Eamon and Liam and hopefully this summer will give us a new set of wonderful moments to add to the archive.
“Of course, I’ll be doing my best, along with all the lads to make the 2016 Euros as successful and exciting as all the big tournaments we’ve worked on for RTE.”
Last June, Giles wasn’t included in the panel covering the crunch qualifier against Scotland.
It was reported then that RTE faced a backlash over its decision to replace Giles with former Millwall and Ireland player Richard Sadlier due to “scheduling issues”.
He told Newstalk at the time that he believed RTE may be making the TV panel younger.
He said then: “I feel okay, I enjoy doing what I’m doing, I’m still capable of it I believe. I think there has been indications that they want to give some of the younger lads a run out in the games.”
Dubliner Giles is a revered giant of Irish football. A former captain and manager of the national team, he played for Manchester United from 1959 until 1963 and went on be a star with Leeds United for a further 12 years.