Sunday 17 December 2017

'He’s facing an incredible task' - Irish priest who gave Sam Allardyce his first managerial role

Fr Joe Young
Fr Joe Young

Ryan Nugent

THE man who gave Sam Allardyce his big break in management – say’s he’s delighted Big Sam has become the first ex- League of Ireland manager to take the England job.

Allardyce was finally announced as the supremo to take on the poison chalice of the England national football team on Friday.

It followed a failed interview with the Football Association 10 years ago.

Limerick priest, Fr Joe Young convinced Allardyce to take the Limerick FC job, when he was chairman of the club 25 years ago, in the summer of 1991.

He told the Herald that he would consider taking on a chaplaincy role with England if Big Sam came calling, but he would have one condition.

“Only if it wasn’t against Ireland – absolutely (I’d do it),” Fr Young said.

“It’s great and congratulations to him. Today is a very special day for me, to see him get that job.

“He’s a great dreamer and until you fulfil your dreams you don’t get a chance to make a difference, that’s what I loved about Sam Allardyce,” he added.

During his heyday of managing Limerick FC, Big Sam led the club to the League of Ireland first division title.

Despite initially having no interest in the Limerick position – he had at first thought it was former, England international Peter Reid prank calling him about the job – Allardyce embraced the job once he signed the contract.

He was, according to Fr Young, well known for calling into local radio stations to give his view on upcoming games and trying to ramp up support for the club as they were making an assault on the title.

“He was always trying to explain that we were trying to make a difference,” Fr Young said.

“You can only get one chance in your life to make a difference and that’s what Sam Allardyce did," he added.

However, after England's numerous failings at major tournaments - including a humiliating defeat at this years European Championships, Fr Young knows it will be a huge challenge for Allardyce to turn things around and make the country contenders again.

“He’s facing an incredible task before him,” he added.

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