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John Delaney: 'Great pride and relief are the two overarching feelings'

FAI head is understandably delighted though was concious of political games ahead of vote.

FAI CHIEF EXECUTIVE John Delaney has revealed he was confident that Dublin would be selected as one of the host cities for Euro 2020 but was still wary of the politics surrounding the announcement.

From a personal point of view, it was a great relief. The technical bid was so good but I felt pressure from a political side to make sure when you’re looking guys in the eyes, that they’re going to vote for us. I got a good feeling last night. I met many of the people who were going to vote. I knew we had a great chance. It’s just a sense of relief. When you see ‘Dublin’ coming out. It was the third-best technical bid behind Wembley and Munich – that’s credit to different agencies and to Declan Conroy who headed it up. So, great pride and relief are the two overarching feelings.

Speaking to FM104′s Darren Cleary, Delaney did outline how a lot of the groundwork had been done in 2011 when Dublin played host to the Europa League final between FC Porto and Braga. The organisation and city had its first taste of a UEFA event and all stakeholders were suitably impressed. According to Delaney, it proved to those working at an elite level of football administration in Europe that Ireland could be trusted with a big event.

General view of empty seats in the Aviva Stadium during the match Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

 

“The Aviva Stadium is iconic. We hosted the Europa League final in 2011 and we did it very well and that stood to us. They trusted us to be able to host a major tournament with the different agencies that helped us with 2011. That was a big plus. That was like a dummy run. We’ve proved we can host major finals. Nationally, all the agencies worked together to ensure we got this tremendous prize.

The FAI will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020 and, should the team qualify, the Republic of Ireland will play at least two group games in Dublin. It promises to be a fitting tribute though there’s the small matter of Euro 2016 to navigate first.

“The first meeting of the FAI was sometime, either June or July in 1920 when we were looking to split from Northern Ireland and it will be the commencement of our 100th year in football so it’s fantastic. And if we’re to qualify, two of our games will be at the Aviva and that’s a big attraction for kids 14/15 years of age today who could well be playing at the Euros in Dublin. That’s the next thing. There’s the matter of qualifying for 2016 under Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane obviously. That’s the most important thing at the moment. But we’ve got a huge prize today. A great day for Ireland. It’s going to be a great honour in 2020 when the Euros come to Dublin – who’d have believed it?”

Delaney also paid a special tribute to all those involved at the grassroots level of the game in Ireland and outlined how all of their hard work has been rewarded by today’s announcement.

“For the young population of the country, to see a major tournament in Dublin is a tremendous thing. For the volunteers who give every hour of their day to Irish soccer all over the country – thousands of volunteers – it’s great recognition for them that their efforts in promoting the game at grassroots level gets this tremendous prize of hosting the Euros.”

Dublin announced as UEFA Euro 2020 host city

This is the video that helped persuade UEFA to make Dublin a Euro 2020 host city

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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