Following the sudden passing of Diego Maradona, we decided we had to pay tribute to the Argentina legend.
Ste McGovern and Colm Boohig caught up to discuss our reaction to his passing, why he avoided the sad fate of George Best, look at the problematic side of a “raging dickhead”, and why the England game in 1986 defined his career.
We also revisited the podcast we recorded about Maradona in 2018 in the aftermath of his antics at the World Cup in Russia, so you can listen to that in the second half of this episode. Or not. I’m not the boss of you.
How many footballers have had as big an effect on British football in the last thirty years as Eric Cantona? There have been better footballers (although not many), but the Frenchman’s influence on the game in England is demonstrable and far-reaching.
To find out why this is the case on the latest Nostalgia Ultras podcast, Ste McGovern and Colm Boohig look into his complex and often contradictory personality and how this was reflected in his style of football. We also tackle a blasphemous suggestion; was The King in fact overrated?
During the course of the episode, we talked about Cantona’s piece in The Player’s Tribune and his willingness to talk about his background, including the incredible story of his grandparents fleeing Spain from General Franco’s Nationalist forces. This story has helped to shape who Cantona and the type of footballer he became.
Since retiring from football Eric The Red has moved into acting and poetry, but how is it that this person who often comes across as soft-spoken and in touch with his emotional side has been prone to flashes of severe violence on the football pitch? How is it that a player who came across as stunningly arrogant and a showboat on the field of play, is also incredibly humbly and socially concious?
We tried to thread these contradictions of Cantona into a cohesive answer, but the Frenchman is a mercurial character, and perhaps will never be fully understood. But at least we can remember what a bloody great footballer he was.
There are those out there who will tell you they don’t like him, that he’s overrated as a manager and even worse as a commentator. Thankfully they are few and far between. Brian Kerr is indeed one of Irish football’s most beloved figures. But why exactly do we love the former Ireland manager so much?
Listen to episode 12 of the podcast: Brian Kerr, the Grandfather of Irish Football
He was only a teenager when he started his managerial career.
At 13 years of age, Brian Kerr got his long career in football management started with the Crumlin United U-11’s side.
He won his first trophy less than a month after getting his first senior managerial role.
Appointed St. Patrick’s Athletic manager in December 1986, Kerr guided them to Leinster Senior Cup glory just three week later, the club’s first trophy in a decade.
He remortgaged his house to help save St. Patrick’s Athletic.
When the Inchicore club were on their knees financially in the nineties, a number of investors raised £82,000 to save the club from going bust. It’s believed that some of them, including Kerr himself, remortgaged their homes to do so. Despite the turmoil surrounding the club, he was able to win two league titles in 1990 and 1994 as manager.
He’s the only manager to have won major trophies with Ireland.
A bronze medal at the 1997 World Youth Championships was followed up with victory at the U16 and U18 European Championships the very next year.
"I had a good little laugh to myself. The idea that Ireland had won both of the European Youth Championships." Brian Kerr WATCH: Republic of Ireland Under 18 UEFA Champions Celebrate in Cyprus 1998 https://t.co/c8JpuWFL8Xpic.twitter.com/7VbXhoQ7Lr
“I was part of a very important scientific experiment where we used to breed rats; they were huge, huge rats. They were on feeding trials in my days as a lab technician with the Department of Agriculture in UCD.
Occasionally there would have been escapee rats running around the floor, who escaped out of the cages. So I got quite handy at capturing white rats on the floor. Overall I thought it was good training for managing in the League of Ireland!”
He is one of the Faroe Islands’ most successful managers of all time.
Kerr’s record of two wins and a draw in 16 competitive games ensures his name will be forever etched into Faroese folklore.
His commentary is often the best thing about RTE’s football coverage.
His description of Shaqiri is just brilliant.
Or as Brian likes to call him, ‘The Powercube’.
New ⚽️#PL season's just round the corner: Which means one thing!
Premier League Live will be back very soon.
So who's Brian Kerr going to bestow with an apt Dublin nickname this season?
This week marks a quarter of a century since Roy Keane’s landmark transfer to Manchester United from Nottingham Forest, but was it the most important signing in the history of the Premier League?
Ste McGovern and Colm Boohig discuss the move that broke the British transfer record, while somehow trying to avoid the controversies that pot marked his career and focusing on what made him such a great player and how he liked to play football.
Was the greatest destroyer the English top tier has ever witnessed? Or is his passing ability and all-round play criminally underrated? Is he more a significant signing than Eric Cantona?
There’s just something about cheering on whoever the English is playing against at a major tournament that adds to the enjoyment of it all. Everyone loves an underdog, but everyone loves to hate the villain even more. For many countries, but especially Ireland (and to a similar extent Scotland and Wales), that villain is England.
LISTEN To Podcast #8 — Celebrating England’s Glorious Failures At Major Tournaments:
It’s pretty much a national pastime at this stage, especially when Ireland aren’t at the World Cup themselves. So what is it about the Old Enemy that we get so much joy out of their oft-repeated demise?
Well, for one, they are known as the Old Enemy for a reason. Centuries of colonialism and imperialism have not won them too many fans, not least in this country. The legacy of bastardry doesn’t really dissipate much over time.
In fact, it still influences how the English view their football team today. As a former conqueror of the world, many of their fans feel they should be on top of the pile more often than not.
This leads to the usual hype and hysteria that we see from England supporters every other year. Ireland are no strangers to over-estimating ourselves before performing meekly on a big stage (see: our blasted optimism heading into Euro 2012, or the recent drubbing at the hands of Denmark), but there’s something unbearably grating about the English attitude when it comes to international football.
Yet there are many football fans in England who don’t actually support the national team. If you are a fan of one of the major clubs, your passion is likely sated by the drama and glory experienced on a yearly basis in the Premier League and Champions League. But there’s also the fact that so many of them just don’t identify with this team and never have, partly down to the record of violence and hooliganism displayed by certain sections of their travelling contingent.
That, and the never-ending cycle of failure.
For our latest podcast we decided to chronicle this unwanted record of their’s: England have only won two knockout games of football, against Denmark and Ecuador, in the last twenty years.
Why twenty years? Euro 96 was the last time that the English national team warranted any sense of true optimism. Not only was the side pretty decent, they were hosting the tournament during an era of unprecedented positivity for the island as a whole. It was the era of Britpop and New Labour, replacing post-punk and Margaret Thatcher as the signposts for a new generation. And best of all, a football song that didn’t make you want to burst your own eardrums.
One line at the start of that famous song that has always resonated with me: “Everyone seems to know the score, they’ve seen it all before.” Which is exactly how I’ve felt watching England fail to clear every hurdle put in their way over the past two decades. It’s the same thing happening over and over again.
Excluding 1966, England’s greatest moments have come in the near-misses of Italia 90 and Euro 96, where they reached the semi-finals on both occasions. The buoyancy gained from the latter tournament didn’t last much longer after France 98, however.
There was no shame in losing to a side like Argentina, and they were in fact quite impressive in taking them to penalties after drawing 2-2 while playing most of the match with 10 men. But it was the manner of David Beckham’s sending that sent fans and press alike into a frenzy.
Beckham became an easy target following their exit from the World Cup, assuming the role of national hate figure. One tabloid ran the subtle headline: “BECKHAM’S RUINED IT FOR US.” West Ham fans hung an effigy of the Man United star before the second game of the season. Curiously, the man himself calls it one of his top career moments, telling GQ this year that it “made me mature very quickly”.
In this writer’s opinion that tournament and the overblown reaction to it by the English broke something inside the psyche of the team. The football culture changed again, for the worse. Ever since then you can tell the players are playing under enormous pressure, fearing the worst instead of hoping for the best. After all, they know full well that one mistake could see them become the next pariah.
Frank Lampard said as much in a recent interview:
France 98 set in motion the series of events that has lead to England players repeatedly playing within themselves, often making fools of themselves while they’re at it.
Ronaldinho’s shot going over the head of David Seaman in 2002. Going out on penalties to Portugal (twice). Wayne Rooney’s stamp on Ricardo Carvalho. The Golden Generation not qualifying for Euro 2008. That would be enough for most nations to have nightmares for years, but it doesn’t stop there.
Looking back, South Africa 2010 feels like the cherry on top of a mediocre pie. Rob Green’s howler versus a United States team who should have been put to the sword. Drawing 0-0 with Algeria and Rooney saying straight to the camera, “it’s nice when your own fans boo you.” But the pièce de résistance was still to come.
Germany scored an embarrassingly simple goal to kick things off in the round of 16, before Lukas Podolski hit a cracking finish. Matthew Upson got one back, but it was to get worse for the English. Lampard had a shot come down off the bar and go over the line, which should have made it 2-2 but it bounced straight back out. The referee didn’t give it, in a reversal of fortunes from the 1966 meeting between the two countries.
Thomas Muller would go on to score two goals on the counter-attack, inflicting England’s biggest defeat at a major tournament. A particularly pleasing sight was that of Mesut Ozil absolutely roasting Gareth Barry for pace on the fourth and final goal. At that moment I understood the true meaning of Schadenfreude.
Andrea Pirlo panenka’d England out of Euro 2012, while they scarpered out of Brazil 2014 with a solitary point to their name. But nothing could ever hold a candle to 2010, surely.
Then came Iceland. A small island nation with a population of 300,000 who had never qualified for anything before Euro 2016. And they beat the English, 2-1.
The delight in Iceland’s victory just about greater than the glee in seeing England lose to a so-called minnow of international football. As everyone’s second favourite team in France, was there anyone could be happier for the land of ice and fire to defeat more than the English? And to cap it all off, there was Steve McClaren.
It’s cruel to point and laugh, but we can’t help it. Here’s to another summer of watching Ingerland making a show of themselves.