Monday 22 January 2018

Liam Brady: I was threatened with expulsion for playing soccer for Ireland instead of GAA in school

Ireland manager Jack Charlton congratulates Liam Brady back in 1987
Ireland manager Jack Charlton congratulates Liam Brady back in 1987

Michael Verney

Liam Brady opened up about his defiance to make it as a professional footballer, football as a form of expression and his initial allegiance to Manchester United in an entertaining segment on last night's Second Captains Live.

The RTE pundit spoke of how he captained an U15 Republic of Ireland side in Wales despite the threat of expulsion hanging over his head.

Brady described himself as a 'pretty good' Gaelic footballer during his time at St Aidan's CBS in Whitehall but his decision to choose soccer over a challenge game against Galway school St Jarlath's met the ire of his educators.

The Dubliner said: "The head Brother told not to come to the school if I missed the match but I never considered missing the soccer game.

"I wasn't very pleased with my father who went to the newspapers with the story and my picture ended up on the front of the Evening Herald. Also, I had a very bad haircut at the time."

Brady, an FA Cup winner with his beloved Arsenal, outlined how his father had exposed the Christian Brothers for being so biased but now enjoys the current relationship with his alma mater.

"Any other school would have been happy to have one of their students captaining his country. But, I get on very well with the people there and we even have a soccer team in St Aidan's now."

Brady talked about how his independent streak helped him throughout his career and said that he would do anything possible to make it in his preferred career. 

The former Republic of Ireland assistant manager said: "It's a big move to go to England when you're 15. When I was 14 I was supposed to go to Arsenal on trial and there was some frost on the roads.

"The Arsenal scout was supposed to pick me up on the road so I ran out onto the Santry road and got a bus up to the airport and made sure I was going to Arsenal."

Brady described football as a pure form of self expression and talked about his admiration for Lionel Messi and how his style of play resonates with the way he used to play the game himself.

"I loved to entertain. To score a goal or set up a goal gave me immense pleasure. If you watch Lionel Messi now, he wants to take people on, he wants to make things happen. I'd like to think I was that kind of player."

To a mixture of boos and cheers, Brady admitted that his club allegiance was not always to his beloved Arsenal and spoke of his admiration for legendary flair players.

"If I had to admit to it I would probably say that I was a bit of a Manchester United fan. They had George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton and for me they were the best players around."

The dual Serie A winner with Juventus is considered a legend in Ireland and an icon in Italy with his cultured left foot winning acclaim across Europe, including author Nick Hornby dedicating a chapter to him in his famous book Fever Pitch.

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