Have you heard about the Corkman helping to discover the next big star in world football? Well, he’s doing it for the United States, not the Republic of Ireland.
If Ian Hennessy had his way, he would be based in his hometown coaching, scouting and trying to make a real difference in Irish football, but sometimes life is not as simple as you would like it to be.
Instead, the 47-year-old is doing all of those things from his base in Delaware as the chief scout of US Soccer between New York and Washington DC.
So how did someone who played in Cork City’s inaugural season in the League of Ireland end up being a talent-spotter Stateside?
“There just weren’t any jobs in Ireland,” explained Hennessy. “Nobody had even heard of the Celtic Tiger when I was growing up in Cork and I would have been lucky to earn £1 an hour driving a cab.
“I got a chance to go to college in the States and it was a godsend.”
At the same time as he was earning a PhD from Seton Hall University, Hennessy was playing in the first ever season of MLS, with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars.
He may never have achieved the type of success that team-mate Roberto Donadoni did, but being part of the soccer scene in the mid-90s led to the opening of many unexpected doors. Not bad for a kid rejected by Arsenal.
“If I’m being honest, I wasn’t good enough to make it at Arsenal. I spent a summer there but they chose some fella called Tony Adams, obviously they made a mistake,” he laughs.
Whether he had the talent or not, Hennessy always had a love for the beautiful game. Not to mind a keen eye for upcoming talent.
He’s been through a lot here; from a time when MLS was seen as more of an experiment and football was not taken seriously. But returning home never crossed his mind, now that he has a wife and two children.
“I’ve seen the NBA almost fold, how football has crossed over into the mainstream, and how they have put an emphasis on developing their own players,” explains Hennessy.
“US Soccer has completely revamped things, brought in new structures, added around 100 scouts and nine technical advisors. Football is really taking off here and I pinch myself that I’m part of it.”
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