Saturday 18 November 2017

Raymond Domenech reveals how close he came to being Ireland boss in 2003

Raymond Domenech was extremely close to managing Ireland
Raymond Domenech was extremely close to managing Ireland

Former France manager Raymond Domenech has revealed how close he came to taking charge of the Republic of Ireland after Mick McCarthy left the post in 2003.

Domenech, who was in charge of the French under-21 team at the time, claimed he was pipped to the job by Brian Kerr.

"I made it on to a three-man shortlist for the Ireland job and was interviewed for it in Paris. In the end they decided to give it to an Irishman, Brian Kerr. But I would have adored it if I’d got it. I love Ireland and the Irish," he told

As luck would have it, Domenech took over as France boss following Euro 2004 and led his country to the World Cup in Germany two years later, beating Ireland 1-0 at Lansdowne Road on the way.

"I love the atmosphere there. I still remember when we played at Lansdowne Road in 2005 and we won thanks to a goal by (Thierry) Henry. The press had twisted some comments I’d made beforehand and after the game I had to walk through a load of supporters. I hesitated, thinking: ‘Oh shit, this could be trouble,’ but I pressed ahead," he added

"Everyone just patted me on the back saying: ‘Well done, good game.’ I couldn’t believe it. It was like: ‘OK, we played, we lost, let’s have a drink together.’ I love that attitude. It would have been great to have been Ireland manager. I am always upset when they don’t make it to a major tournament."

Domenech was still in charge in 2009 when Henry's infamous handball in the lead-up to William Gallas' winner which robbed Ireland of a place at the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.

"They put in an extraordinary performance in Paris but don’t forget that we should have won 2-0 or 3-0 in the first leg so there was a sporting balance that was logical."

His love affair with Ireland began at USA '94.

"When I went to the World Cup in 1994 I made sure I went to wherever the Irish fans were because there was always a drink and a good vibe."

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