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Still Getting His Kicks
With his debut album about to hit the racks, football legend Paul McGrath talks to Jackie Hayden about music, how soccer has lost its physical side, the fate of the current Irish team, his bust up with Alex Ferguson, the contrasting managerial styles of Giovanni Trapattoni and Jack Charlton, John Fashanu breaking his teeth, Norman Whiteside climbing out windows, and laughing at Vinnie Jones.
Jackie Hayden, 07 Oct 2011
Who else do you remember playing against?
I always enjoyed playing against Teddy Sheringham because he was actually quite slow physically. But he was very quick-witted, and he could just as easily put one over on you. He was always a challenge.
What did you think of the recent Irish performances against Slovakia and Russia?
I was disappointed we didn’t do better in the game against Slovakia at home. Our lads did amazingly well to get back from Russia with a draw. They were all over us in the first half and I was nearly looking at the game through my fingers! Richard Dunne was amazing, as was Shay Given. They kind of rescued us from hell. It was also great to see the team all working for each other, as if the old spirit was coming back. We live to fight another day.
Do you really think we can still qualify?
We could even win the group. It’s still that open. I think we’re more likely to get through from the play-offs. However, a shock win or two can totally change things. A lot can depend on what the other teams do too.
If you were in Trapattoni’s place, what would you do to get us through the next few matches?
I think we badly need somebody who can score goals on a regular basis. I’m not sure if there is anybody.
How do you rate Trapattoni?
I’ve met him a few times through projects we’ve worked together on. I can tell you that this is a man deeply in love with the sport. He’s passionate, make no mistake about that. Totally committed to the Irish side.
How does he compare with Jack Charlton?
It’s hard to compare them fairly because the game was so different even as recently as the Charlton era. Jack had a different style that was partly to do with the kind of man he was, but also because he had to adapt to use the players he had available to him and get the best out of them. He did a remarkable job. He knew how to motivate us. He’d stop the coach on the way home from a game to let us have a few pints somewhere. You probably couldn’t do that today with all the attention there is on teams and players from everywhere, FIFA, the public, the media...