Raymond Domenech: ‘I would have adored the Ireland job’

The former France manager said he was pipped to the job in 2003 by Brian Kerr

Former France manager Raymond Domenech has said that he would love to have been appointed Ireland manager in 2003, but the FAI chose Brian Kerr instead.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian ahead of France hosting this summer's European Championships, the third longest-serving les Bleus manager said he was placed on a shortlist of three a year before he got the job at his national team.

“I made it on to a three-man shortlist for the Ireland job and was interviewed for it in Paris,” he says.

“In the end they decided to give it to an Irishman, Brian Kerr. But I would have adored it if I’d got it. I love Ireland and the Irish. I love the atmosphere there. I still remember when we played at Lansdowne Road in 2005 and we won thanks to a goal by Henry. The press had twisted some comments I’d made beforehand and after the game I had to walk through a load of supporters. I hesitated, thinking: ‘Oh shit, this could be trouble,’ but I pressed ahead. And everyone just patted me on the back saying: ‘Well done, good game.’ I couldn’t believe it. It was like: ‘OK, we played, we lost, let’s have a drink together.’ I love that attitude. It would have been great to have been Ireland manager. I am always upset when they don’t make it to a major tournament.”


Domenech was the French coach when Henry handballed in extra time at the Stade de France, sending his side to the 2010 World Cup and dumping Ireland out.

And the 64-year-old said he was disappointed that Ireland did not make it to the tournament because of the atmosphere the fans bring.

“I’m always upset when Ireland don’t make it to a big tournaments because they bring a brilliant atmosphere. When I went to the World Cup in 1994 I made sure I went to wherever the Irish fans were because there was always a drink and a good vibe,” he said.

Domenech, who was France coach from 2004 to 2010, says he hopes to enjoy a drink with Ireland fans at this summer’s tournament but does not rate the chances of Martin O’Neill’s team in the tough group of Belgium, Italy and Sweden.

“I hope so,” says the Frenchman. “Because they can get drunk and stay happy. And that’s a good thing because they’re in a hellish group. Mind you, that will suit them. They love a battle.”