Rice could be mak­ing big­gest mis­take of his life if he re­jects Ire­land – Galvin

The ex-Spurs winger cher­ishes mem­o­ries of his days with the Re­pub­lic of Ire­land

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SOCCER - Em­met Mal­one Soc­cer Cor­re­spon­dent

Fa­mously the only mem­ber of the Ire­land squad at Euro ’88 with a flu­ent com­mand of Rus­sian, a stint at Bri­tain’s GCHQ was amongst the ca­reer op­tions Tony Galvin had pur­sued be­fore foot­ball in­ter­vened.

It is en­ter­tain­ing to imag­ine the young Galvin weigh­ing up whether he should join the ranks of the spies or the Spurs although, in re­al­ity, he had al­ready ready opted for teach­ing by the time Bill Ni­chol­son came along to see him play for non-league Goole Town on a snowy mid­week night up a moun­tain.

He still seems slightly amazed that the ti­tle-win­ning for­mer Tot­ten­ham man­ager made the jour­ney on a night like that but it changed his life.

Galvin, whose parental great grand­par­ents were Ir­ish im­mi­grants but who ac­tu­ally qual­i­fied to play for Ire­land through a grand­fa­ther on his mother’s side, had gone to gram­mar school and played rugby un­til his late teens.

Shine through

There was a trial or two de­spite the fact that he was a late­comer to soc­cer and played rarely enough for his lo­cal club, YMCA.

He even earned a cou­ple of caps for Eng­land’s schools team at Un­der-18 level but it was at uni­ver­sity that his tal­ent re­ally started to shine through although it was an­other year or so after that be­fore Ni­chol­son de­cided he was good enough to join Tot­ten­ham.

Signed in mid-win­ter, for the first six months he was only part-time but the money – £50 a week – was two and a half times what he had been on be­fore and Galvin reck­oned that if it turned out he was fly­ing too high, he would land some­where be­tween the-then First Di­vi­sion and the Fourth Di­vi­sion as he floated back to­wards earth.

“I prob­a­bly thought Tot­ten­ham was a level too high at the time,” he ac­knowl­edges, while back in Dublin with quite a few of his for­mer Euro’88 team-mates ahead of Sun­day’s Eu­ro­pean qual­i­fy­ing draw to pro­mote the open­ing of the Na­tional Foot­ball Ex­hi­bi­tion which will be on at The Printworks, Dublin Cas­tle un­til De­cem­ber 9th.

“If I don’t make it, I thought, there’ll be some­thing else. I’d done my teach­ing [qual­i­fi­ca­tion] , I got that be­hind me. So I thought, I’d noth­ing to lose, see how it goes.

“The cul­ture shock was mas­sive. When I went full-time I was 22. Quite old. I’m play­ing in re­serves with lads who are 17, 18. Lads who been there from when they were kids.

“My first sea­son there, not a lot hap­pened but the se­cond sea­son went well, I started to get into the team.”

Chris Hughton re­cruited him for Ire­land and he made his de­but away to the Nether­lands in 1982. The first time he played against Eng­land, he re­calls, he got a lot of stick but he sounds like a man who never gave it a se­cond thought and he was cer­tainly a key player at those 1988 Eu­ro­pean Cham­pi­onships which he talks about with great fond­ness.

Jack Gre­al­ish, he firmly be­lieves, has made a mis­take not mak­ing the same de­ci­sion he did while De­clan Rice is, he fears, cur­rently on the brink on mak­ing an even big­ger one.


“He could,” said Galvin, “be mak­ing the big­gest mis­take of his life. The longer it goes, he could be think­ing there is an Eng­land cap around the cor­ner but I’d be say­ing: ‘No do it [play for Ire­land] be­cause it will make you a bet­ter player, it will in­crease your value and you might have the mak­ing of a fu­ture cap­tain of the team.’ If he plays for the Re­pub­lic, he’s go­ing to be play­ing for ten years.”

Galvin knows how pre­cious those years at the top are.

After his play­ing days fin­ished, he had a stint as as­sis­tant man­ager to Ossie Ardiles at New­cas­tle but then couldn’t get an­other job in the game and so re­tuned to ed­u­ca­tion, work­ing in lo­cal col­leges with kids in their late teens who had “messed up” first time around be­fore then mov­ing into the civil ser­vice from which he re­tired a few years ago. These days, he coaches a bit in a lo­cal pri­mary school, does a bit at Spurs on the hospi­tal­ity side of things and sounds rather con­tent with his lot.

He still fol­lows Ire­land, though, and hav­ing en­coun­tered what he re­garded a fair bit of snob­bery to­wards the team in his own day, seems still to be smart­ing over the slightly dis­re­spect­ful way he feels Chris­tian Erik­sen spoke about Martin O’Neill’s side in the wake of their var­i­ous re­cent en­coun­ters, re­gard­ing how neg­a­tive the team’s tac­tics were etc.

“I think he ac­tu­ally said, ‘they al­ways play like that’, says the 62-year-old with a hint of ex­as­per­a­tion. “No they don’t,” he con­tin­ues, by way of re­ply.

“When Ire­land went to Den­mark they played well. They could have nicked that game and I think when they played at home they weren’t par­tic­u­larly neg­a­tive.

“They just got fu**ing ham­mered,” he con­cludes to an ex­plo­sion of laugh­ter. He’s still got a way with the words, it seems.

The cul­ture shock was mas­sive. When I went full-time I was 22. Quite old. I’m play­ing in re­serves with lads who are 17, 18 I’d be say­ing: ‘No do it [play for Ire­land] be­cause it will make you a bet­ter player, it will in­crease your value and you might have the mak­ing of a fu­ture cap­tain’


For­mer Re­pub­lic of Ire­land in­ter­na­tion­als Kevin Sheedy, left, and Tony Galvin at the Man­sion House in Dublin yes­ter­day.

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