not a member? click here to sign up
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
How did that come about?
Myself and Bryan Robson were coming back after having been out of action for a while through injuries, and he gave us a run-out in a match with the under-17 squad. At one point during the game I made a bad mistake, so he came over to me and started screaming abuse right into my face. I knew I’d made a mistake. I didn’t need him to tell me, and I actually started to tell him to cool down, telling him that there was no need for him to shout, that I knew what I’d done was wrong. Even while I was answering back at him I felt I was in the wrong myself, that I was actually humiliating him in front of younger players. I really felt sorry about that, that I’d been so disrespectful to him in front of others. I think I knew I was on my way out of Old Trafford by then and maybe I didn’t care. I still feel I should have taken his criticism in the usual way and not responded the way I did.
What do you think of Ferguson?
His track record speaks for itself. I probably get on better with him now than I did towards the end of my career with Man U. He’s actually been very good to me and he regularly invites me over to be part of events connected with the team. He’s a really nice man and I have a lot of time for him.
Wayne Rooney as recently compared with Pelé. Do you think Rooney is really that good?
I don’t actually think you can compare players from different eras like that. The game has changed so much since Pelé’s day. Rooney’s having a very good season so far, and he seems to be far more comfortable with himself of late and he’s delivering the goods. He had a dreadful World Cup and that was only a year ago, so only time will tell how good he really is.
Irish fans tend to be fairly enthusiastic about wanting England to lose international matches, no matter who they’re playing. Did that attitude extend to Irish players playing in England like yourself?
Oh yeah, it would. It’s more to do with some of the people who run the game in England who have a snooty attitude to everybody else. They think England has a divine right to win trophies. Like, when England were playing Wales a few weeks ago, I really wanted Wales to win. But if England get through to the finals I’ll probably want them to do well. It’s not something I feel all that strongly about.