As John Giles completed 30 years on the RTE football panel last night, Eamon Dunphy paid an eloquent and emotional tribute to his friend and colleague’s career in football.
“They’ll be no past tense here, because John’s career has been, is, brilliant.
“His greatness is due to his courage and his foresight and his wisdom - Jim (Beglin) referred to it at the end of the game.
“He had the wisdom to leave Manchester United when they were the top club in England, to go to Leeds United, in the second division, the Championship, to believe in Don Revie, who was building a great team, which John partly led and largely led.
“Intellectually, he knew that was the time. And he went on to manage West Brom. Don Revie wanted him to succeed him at Leeds, as the manager. Bill Nicholson wanted him to succeed him at Tottenham, as the coach.
“He went on to manage West Brom. Won promotion. Fifth in what is now the Premier League. The hottest young manager in England. He walked away from the game because he didn’t like the way it was run; responsibility without power.
“He managed the Irish team, changed the culture over seven years, gave Liam (Brady), Mark Lawrenson, all these great players their debut, changed it forever.
“He came home to try and create a great club at Shamrock Rovers. Brave, courageous, foresight; it’s always been his hallmark.
“And in the 30 years he’s sat in that chair; if any of these kids out there wonder ‘who’s that guy?’. That guy is the greatest football man we’ve ever had and has nearly ever been on these islands.”
Fellow panelist and Irish Examiner columnist Liam Brady also praised Giles’s honesty and integrity.
“I met John when I was 17. I was playing as a kid for Arsenal against Leeds. That’s when I first met him.
"He had a word with me after the game. He knew where I was from. He was the Irish manager there. I played for him, I played with him, a great player to play with and a great manager to play for.
“His opinions as a pundit have never been compromised by reputation of managers, by reputation of players. He’s always called it as he sees it with honesty, with integrity and with no fear. And I’ve learned an enormous lot from him about football and about life.
“And I will carry on learning because we were out on Friday night and we shall be out again.”
Liam Brady on John Giles: "He's always called it as he sees it, with honesty and with integrity and with no fear." https://t.co/Yehl787edh— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) July 10, 2016
RTE also produced a short farewell film 'A Football Man', including a tribute from President Michael D Higgins.
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