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RTÉ bids farewell to Ireland's 'greatest football man' John Giles

President Michael D Higgins and Eamon Dunphy led the tributes to one of the country’s best-loved pundits during his final appearance.

Giles during tonight's programme.
Giles during tonight's programme.

JOHN GILES’ 31-year association with RTÉ came to an end on Sunday night.

Former Ireland midfielder and ex-international manager Giles became one of the country’s best-loved pundits alongside the late Bill O’Herlihy, Eamon Dunphy and Liam Brady — covering a total of eight World Cups and as many European championships. 

However, the Euro 2016 final between Portugal and France was his last match on the panel as the 75-year-old’s contract has not been renewed.

Giles will continue his work with The Herald and on Newtalk’s Off The Ball, and he refused to rule out the possibility of a move to TV3 when asked last year.

Close friend Dunphy and President Michael D Higgins led the tributes at the end of the programme and a montage containing some of his best moments was shown.

Source: RTÉ Sport/YouTube

“There will be no past tense here because John’s career has been… is, brilliant,” said Dunphy. “His greatness is due to his courage, his foresight and his wisdom.

“He had the wisdom to leave Manchester United, who were a top club, to go to Leeds United, who were in the second division. (He had the wisdom) to believe in Don Revie, who was building a great team, which John largely led.

“Intellectually, he knew that was the time. Don wanted him to succeed him at Leeds, Bill Nicholson wanted him to succeed him as coach of Tottenham.

“He went on to manage West Brom — one promotion, fifth in what’s now the Premier League. The hottest young manager in the game, he walked away because he didn’t like the way it was run and the responsibility without power.


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“He managed the Irish team and changed the culture over seven years. He gave Liam (Brady), Mark Lawrenson and all these players their debuts and changed it forever.

“He came home to try and create a great club at Shamrock Rovers. Brave, courageous, foresight — it has always been his hallmark.

In the 30 years that he sat in that chair, if any of the kids out there are wondering ‘who’s that guy?’. That guy there is the greatest football man we’ve ever had and nearly that’s ever been on these islands.

“And it’s going to go on, for The Herald and Newstalk. I’ll be tuning in and I’ll be buying the Herald.

“He’s a great, great friend of all of us, a joy to work with and a great, great figure in the history of Irish sport. Soccer’s man.”

Source: RDinHD/YouTube

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Ben Blake

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