Brady to step down


INTERNATIONAL SOCCER: LIAM BRADY has revealed that he will not be staying on to be a part of Giovanni Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland management team for the forthcoming European Championship campaign.

The Dubliner, who turns 54 today, had been weighing up his future since last September when Trapattoni and his other assistant, Marco Tardelli, committed themselves to the FAI for the next two years.

Brady will now step down in April when his current contract expires and Ireland’s game against Brazil at the Emirates on March 2nd will be his last as part of the Ireland set up. The match, of course, is on home soil for him in so far as the former Ireland skipper is employed by Arsenal to oversee the club’s youth academy and he had said last year that he would have to speak to Arsene Wenger before he could agree to stay on with the FAI.

It was the first suggestion that the Frenchman, who had been said to be enthusiastic about Brady taking on the role at the start of 2008, might have any reservations about the situation. But Brady insisted yesterday that this had not been a factor in his decision and that he had, in fact, been given permission to stay.

In the end, he said, he had simply decided that it was not the right thing for him to do at present. “I have thoroughly enjoyed working as assistant manager for my country over the past two years,” said Brady in a statement issued through the association last night, “and I thank Giovanni, Marco, Alan (Kelly), Fausto (Rossi), the backroom team, the players and the fans for their tremendous support during that time. As a former Irish captain it was a real pleasure to be part of growing and developing the new generation of Irish players who performed so well over the last campaign.

“The decision to end my involvement with Ireland has been taken in light of my continued work as Director of Youth Development at Arsenal. The Ireland role required me to be away a lot of time and although Arsenal made it clear they would have been quite happy for me to continue, I have decided it is not right in the circumstances to remain in position after I complete my contract this April.

“I thank the FAI and everyone involved in the Irish set up. It has been a great personal experience for me and I wish Giovanni, Marco and all the players all the very best for the coming campaign.”

Brady, who like Tardelli played under Trapattoni at Juventus, had played an important part in bedding the new management team down, providing and Irish input and voice at the highest level of team affairs. He appeared fiercely loyal to his manager and passionate about the team’s fortunes, as was evidenced when he referred to Sepp Blatter as “an embarrassment to Fifa,” in the wake of the controversial World Cup play-off game in Paris.

He could be blunt at times in his dealings with others too but he and the Italians were clearly close and Trapattoni expressed regret last night that the former midfielder would not be staying on “Liam has been a great asset to the Ireland management team,” he said, “and we will all be sorry to see him go after his last match with us against Brazil in the Emirates Stadium. He has done a great job here and I know all of the players join me in wishing him every continued success at Arsenal.”

Brady also played a significant role in introducing the Italians to players, managers and officials both here and in Britain and even helped out on the language front from time to time.

Nevertheless, it is not expected that he will be replaced within the set up as Trapattoni believes that he and Tardelli can now cope without him and the FAI will probably be happy to save the half of the estimated €500,000 salary they were paying him. The association’s chief executive, John Delaney, paid tribute the the contribution made by the former Ireland skipper during the past two years and wished him well for the future.

“Liam is a legend of Irish football and a gentleman to work with,” he said. “He has impressed everyone here at the association with his dedication and commitment. His lifetime of experience at the highest levels in the game, in Italy, England and Ireland brought a necessary dynamic to the original building of the team and contributed significantly to the success of the last campaign. We wish him all the very best in his continuing role at Arsenal.”

Trapattoni, meanwhile, has again dismissed reports linking him with the Nigeria job at the World Cup this summer, insisting that he is “fully committed” to the Ireland job.

The FAI, meanwhile, stated that contrary to reports abroad, there is no “escape” clause in the manager’s contract.