Tributes paid to Dokter as he exits FAI high performance director role

Kenny and Pauw lead praise for the Dutch native’s contribution to the development of young Irish talent

Ruud Dokter’s attempted revolution from within Irish soccer ended on Friday with an FAI press release full of lavish praise for the Dutch high performance director.

"The players and their development were at the centre of every decision he took as he helped create and foster an ego free culture amongst the coaches," said Ireland senior men's manager Stephen Kenny. "Ruud would always ask the question 'what is best for the player?'

“Having studied different development plans and systems throughout Europe he had a clear vision of how to develop players in Ireland and was prepared to make unpopular decisions to improve the development of football in Ireland and the culture supporting that.”

Kenny may be referring to Dokter’s role in forming national underage leagues despite apoplectic resistance from leading schoolboy clubs. That decision alone may paint the 66-year-old in a better light long after he has departed the scene.

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“He helped instil good values in all the coaches of the international teams and encouraged a healthy working relationship so that players could move freely throughout the age groups with their progress at the epicentre of all of the decisions,” Kenny added.

“On a personal note, I have never heard Ruud raise his voice. He treats everyone with respect and is always an absolute gentleman and I want to wish him the very best for the future.”

Vera Pauw, the Ireland senior woman's manager who Dokter was instrumental in recruiting two years ago, was equally effusive.

“The FAI will have a big task to find someone who can pursue the road of all development programs that have been developed,” said Pauw, despite many people in Irish football believing that the position should have been filled by someone who was more in tune with the subtleties of Irish sport.

Invaluable work

“The content of his work must be continued because there is a firm learning line now, from the content of grassroots activities up to the national teams,” said Pauw.

“I have enjoyed our two years working together in Ireland and I look forward to seeing Ruud’s invaluable work being carried on into the future.”

Appointed by John Delaney, the since disgraced FAI chief executive, back in April 2013, and given a five-year contract that ran into 2020, Dokter's international perspective could be something the association wishes to continue.

Jonathan Hill, the current FAI chief executive, paid tribe to Dokter’s “player development plan” and the “creation of a clear philosophy for underage football across the country” despite criticism of player specialisation from 12 years old.

The recruitment process is expected to be heavily influenced by Packie Bonner, in his role as chairman of the international and high performance committee, with the legendary Ireland goalkeeper's former role as FAI technical director making him a potential candidate for the position.

What’s clear is that Dokter’s successor will have a far reaching impact on the Irish football landscape throughout the 2020s.