Niall Quinn has challenged Ireland’s Euro 2016 heroes to build on the success of their French adventure.
The former Ireland striker is keen to see the likes of Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick add to their burgeoning reputations by making Premier League switches — and proving their displays in Lille, Lyon, and Paris were not one-offs.
Quinn has given glowing references to interested parties who have inquired about the pair, and hopes the benchmarks they set last month can lift them to the next level for club and country.
Picking Brady out as his tournament star, Quinn believes the Dubliner epitomises the brave, new Ireland team that emerged from the ashes of the Belgium defeat in Bordeaux.
“His goals record is speaking for itself right now but not only that, his ability and his lack of fear, aligned to that skill set that he has, makes him stand out,” Quinn said at the launch of Sky Sports’ new season packages.
“And when others around you buy into that, to that feeling throughout the squad, you get players who start to make real names for themselves, Hendrick being the other one who just took it by the scruff of the neck and played a tournament with no fear, showed great energy levels.
“He’s got an awful lot, Robbie. I love the whole approach, his joy. He almost felt honoured to score that goal [against Italy]. He didn’t shove it in our faces, like Ronaldo might do when he scores a great goal.”
Brady has been linked with a move away from Norwich, but the Championship side are holding out for a club willing to match their €22m valuation.
“There’s a lot of talk about a move at the minute, it could go down to the wire, if valuation is the issue because I think his club have put a fairly high tariff on his head that maybe wasn’t there before the Euros,” said Quinn.
“That’s just the transfer game in play. If it comes off for him, I think it’s great for us and for whoever he goes to.”
Quinn believes the club that eventually nabs Brady will be getting a top class, versatile talent who has had the best grounding possible.
“When I saw him play at Hull City in his early days there, he played with no fear and wanted the ball in tight situations,” he said.
“Manchester United was a big help to him. It must have been drilled into him to the point that fear just really goes out the window and that you are good enough not to do it and good enough to stand out as a Manchester United youngster.
“Everything has been building and he has been on a great roll.”
Brady played left back for United, Hull, Norwich, and Ireland, despite starting his career as a more attacking player. Against Italy, Martin O’Neill started him in the ‘Wes’ role, and the 24-year-old never looked back.
Quinn believes the player would go back to the defensive position if asked, but hopes he doesn’t have to do so.
“Yes, he’s too creative for that really,” he argued. “It would be great to see him play up top, delivering balls, threading passes through.
“It just adds a dimension that was just missing over the last couple of years. We have players whom we now know are capable of threading little balls and playing in triangles, wanting the ball in dangerous and difficult areas with those responsible around him backing it up with runs and energy and enthusiasm.
“It can kick on, it really can, and all those lads have kind of set a bit of a benchmark this summer but they can achieve more.”
Hendrick is the other player to emerge with credit — and interest — from the Euro 2016 campaign. Quinn has also been on the receiving end of a host of phone calls regarding the Derby midfielder.
“I think they have to convince themselves that it was a not a one-off in the summer, that’s probably where a lot of the decision makers at clubs are on perspective transfers,” he said.
“That’s where there is a question mark.
“I am sure he is bursting for a chance to prove it wasn’t.
“I am surprised that somebody has not taken a punt and taken a chance on him at this point at the kind of levels that he has been valued at.
“I would have no hesitation in recommending him. You need legs, you need energy, you need a lot of the things he has to play the game.
“But you also need ability and his ability is getting better and better. We’ve seen a bit more of him than most English clubs. We’re probably biased, but he’s worth a punt.”
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