Sunday 23 September 2018

Proud Reid excited by class of 1998 reunion

Andy Reid, was part of the U-16 European Championship sides of 1998. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Andy Reid, was part of the U-16 European Championship sides of 1998. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile Sportsdesk

The future of Irish football is up in the air with speculation over Martin O'Neill's future - and that's sure to be a topic of discussion when a group of players responsible for one of the great years meet up in Dublin today.

Members of the U-16 and U-18 European Championship sides of 1998 will meet up in Dublin ahead of tonight's SSE Airtricity/SWAI annual awards banquet.

Twenty-four players are due to attend, including a raft of players who went on to play at senior level. The continued absence of their old manager Brian Kerr from the Irish football scene is sure to be a talking point.

Andy Reid, who was part of the U-16 group that year, says the occasion is about celebrating their achievements. "We have a group chat going and people can't wait to meet up," he said. "Most of us have not been together in a group for a long time and this SWAI event tonight could be the only time we meet up. This will probably never happen again, so we will enjoy the occasion. It's not really about the FAI, it's about the players, Brian, (the late) Noel O'Reilly and the staff.

"At the time we didn't realise how big an achievement it was. But as time went on it came through to us what a big deal it was, for an Irish team to be champions of Europe. It's something for every player in that squad to be proud of.

"You only realise it now, but back then we were being given a really good football education by Brian and Noel.

"They educated us on how to be as people, how to act and how to behave. We didn't always behave brilliantly, but Brian would just sit us down and say, 'That's not the way you go about things'.

"Brian and Noel gave you a real self-belief, that was drummed into us that we could beat these teams. In a football sense, it was great but on a personal level it was great too; it brought us on from being young boys into men."

- Daniel McDonnell

Irish Independent

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