sport news Arsenal legend LIAM BRADY on his colourful life and times: The wizard who ... trends now
The wearer of many hats is thinking back to the time he became a matador for the afternoon. It has been a fun walk through the memories with Liam Brady and the journey has brought us to his encounter with a bull.
That would be Graeme Souness. The place was Genoa, the year was 1984 and Souness had just stepped out of the darkness and into a fight. It is quite a tale.
‘I’d left Sampdoria that summer to go to Inter Milan and Graeme was coming in,’ Brady tells Mail Sport. ‘He’d moved into my apartment, and me and my wife helped him a bit with the move. Showed him a few restaurants, furniture shops, that stuff.
‘So a little while later, Inter are playing at Sampdoria in a pre-season friendly. The ball comes to me from the kick-off and suddenly a man comes charging in off the ground. It was like a kung fu tackle, knee-height. I was like a matador getting out of the way of a raging bull.
‘Well, it was Graeme and I’m thinking, “What was that about?” Trevor Francis was at Sampdoria at the time, so I asked him.
Ireland and Arsenal legend Liam Brady sat down with The Daily Mail's Raith Al-Samarrai
The former winger came into the crosshairs of tough-tackling Scottish midfielder Graeme Souness on more than one occasion
‘Apparently, when we left the apartment, the removal people took all our lamps and when Graeme moved in on his first night, after going for dinner or whatever, there was no light. He couldn’t find his way around the house and blamed me. He nearly killed me for that in a friendly!’
Brady is having a good laugh about it. Just as he has a good laugh about the day Souness, now a Mail Sport columnist, floated the idea during his time as Rangers manager of Brady becoming the first Catholic to play at Ibrox.
‘I think it was tongue in cheek,’ Brady says, but then again, he always did stand out.
He stood out as the elegant, left-footed Irish playmaker in those fine Arsenal sides of the 1970s. He stood out as a player from the British Isles who truly succeeded on the continent. He stood out for snubbing Luciano Pavarotti. He stood out in his pants in a room of silk pyjamas during two title- winning seasons at Juventus.
He also stood out as a footballer who became a manager, a liberator, a broadcaster and a refiner of young talents, from Ashley Cole to Bukayo Saka.
Fifty-odd years in the game — it flew by in a life well lived and he feels like reflecting on it, even if a chunk of the love has gone.
Brady is 67 now, five months on from his departure from broadcasting, and he has a book out. It is a good one, though the title — Born to be a Footballer — undersells the diversity of his contributions. It is also his second crack at a memoir.
‘I did the first when I was 24 and I don’t know what was I thinking,’ he says. He had been at Arsenal nine years at that stage, a Dublin lad whose folks were once offered a washing machine by Coventry City as an inducement to a different path.
That could not stop him from going to Highbury at 15, but by the time his original book was published in 1980, he was ready to spread his wings.
‘It was called So Far, So Good,’ he adds. ‘Naively, I got talked into that and it got me in trouble. I’d said critical things about Terry Neill (the Arsenal manager) and the book came out three or four days before we played the FA Cup final. Someone asked Terry how he was feeling before the game and he said, “So far, so good”.
The 67-year-old is five months on from his departure from broadcasting, and he has a book out
Brady was part of the Arsenal team that claimed the Gunners' fifth FA Cup trophy in 1979
The former winger made 235 appearances for the north London side across eight seasons after graduating from the youth ranks in 1973
‘That was a stupid thing for me to do. I prefer this one.’
Brady is not a man with many regrets, but that initial offering ranks among them from a playing career spanning Arsenal, Juventus, Sampdoria, Inter Milan, Ascoli and West Ham between 1973 and 1990. That it yielded one FA Cup in 1979 and two Serie A titles in the early Eighties might feel like a diminished return to those who saw the rainbow of his talents, but it was mostly a joy ride.
‘A great time,’ he says and it is supported by the recollections in his book. He cannot help but smirk when retelling the story of what happened after a youth game for Arsenal against Manchester United, when he made the mistake as a 16-year-old of waving to his family in the crowd at Old Trafford.
‘I’m coming off and in the tunnel is Tommy Docherty (the United manager). He says, “What do you think you’re doing, wee f*****? Who do you think you are?”’
After bravely suggesting that Docherty, a formidable man, ought to focus on keeping his struggling side in the First Division, Brady then found himself on a collision course with Docherty’s assistant Paddy Crerand. ‘He called me a wee f***** as well!’
The gist of their displeasure was that this boy — nicknamed ‘Chippy’ then and to this day because it is what he mainly ate — had not yet made sufficient impact on the game to have a voice.
In time that would be corrected, particularly across seven seasons at Arsenal, when those twitching hips and clever touches made him a menace from either flank. ‘My only regret is we played three straight FA Cup finals and the Cup-Winners’ Cup and only won one, in 1979 against United.’
Alas, it was in Italy where most of Brady’s accomplishments were more tangible and where he mined so much material for his autobiography.
But none of that would have happened had he succumbed to the charms of a phone call from Brian Clough in 1980. Enquiring about the price Brady had recently paid for a house in Majorca (£25,000), Clough told him: ‘I’ll buy you five of them if you come to Nottingham Forest.’
Brady does a decent impression, to be fair, but he was not to be turned and ended up at Juventus, where he embraced the culture and language more than most who made the move from English clubs. Even factoring in a bitter ending when they signed Michel Platini, it was a successful period. The fans loved him in Turin.
Brady was honoured for his stellar 1978-79 campaign with the PFA Players' Player of the Year
The former Ireland international was part of the wave of England-based footballers who moved to Serie A clubs in the 1980s
There were initial shocks, though. One of his first evenings was spent in a players’ meeting in the room of the great World Cup- winning