Houghton: I was 'hugely surprised' at Keane's enthusiasm

Ray Houghton has confessed he was surprised at the 'unbelievable' enthusiasm of Roy Keane for the assistant management job.

Houghton, who famously scored against Italy in the 1994 World Cup, was part of the selection team to find Giovanni Trapattoni's successor.

"When I spoke to Roy … I felt [he] was unbelievably enthusiastic. I had an eye-opening encounter with him, how much he wanted to be involved with the Irish set-up, what it meant to him," Houghton said.

"And I’ve got to say – I was hugely surprised – in a positive way."

Houghton's role, he said, was to assess candidates "who were very interested" and report back to the FAI, who would make the final decision.

"Hopefully – fingers crossed – we’ve made a good one," he said. "Certainly, we’ll have the whole country speaking.

"Whoever’s an Irish football fan, I’m sure, will be delighted with the appointments."

Houghton also paid tribute to Martin O'Neill's in-depth knowledge of the game.

"When I sat down and talked to him, you could tell straight away his enthusiasm for it [and] his knowledge of football – which is quite incredible," he said.

"I think it’s exciting times ahead."

The FAI, meanwhile, have drawn a line under Keane's past and his controversial departure from the training camp in Saipan in 2002.

"We were all younger people back then," John Delaney, FAI chief executive, said during the radio interview in which the duo were confirmed.

“I think we all say things in different parts of our life. I’m sure you or I have said things that we regret.

“But anything that would have been said by Roy or I to each other or about each other is irrelevant, it’s irrelevant.

“Irish football and our country is bigger than anything.”

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