Today’s marks the 58th birthday of Liam Brady. From signing as a teenager with Arsenal, to his wavy-haired international début at Dalymount, to his time as a star of the title-winning Juventus, Brady is considered among the greatest players ever to emerge from this island. As a pundit, he is a key member of RTE’s legendary panel. Chippy, we salute you.
Brady joined Arsenal as a schoolboy in 1971 at the age of 15, having played with St Kevin’s Boys and Home Farm in his native Dublin. ‘Chippy,’ as he became known due his fondness for the food, made his first senior appearance on 6 October 1973 against Birmingham City.
A year later, he made his début for Ireland on 30 October 1974, in a 3–0 win over the USSR at Dalymount Park in a European Championship qualifier. The 18 year-old lined out alongside player-manager John Giles, a formation that would endure far beyond the white lines of the football pitch. Brady has since described his first cap as among the greatest moments of his career.
The 1979 FA Cup is considered an exhibition of Brady’s prowess owing to the supremely gifted left-footer’s performance when he led the Gunners to a 3-2 win over Manchester United.
The following season Arsenal reached the Cup Winners’ Cup final with David O’Leary and Frank Stapleton also in the team, defeating Juventus in the final four. Brady’s displays caught the eye of the Italian giants and following Arsenal’s final heartache, in which Brady missed the decisive kick in the penalty shoot-out, he was signed by Giovanni Trapattoni, commencing a life-long friendship.
Arriving for a £500 000 fee, the Irishman quickly became Juventi’s first foreign star. He later said: “When the plane landed [in Turin], there was a mass of black and white. The Juventus supporters were waiting for me to arrive; it was something I didn’t expect.”
Brady won two scudettos with the Old Lady but the arrivals of Michel Platini and Zbigniew Boniek in 1982 and the restriction on two foreign players saw Brady leave for Sampdoria. He also had spells with Inter Milan and Ascoli before a move back to England with West Ham.
Brady’s World Cup 1990 heartache is well documented. Injury robbed him of a place at the final tournament while much has been made of his relationship with Jack Charlton. Many feel the Irish manager humiliated Brady in the end, unwilling to accommodate his skills in the Republic’s crude game-plan, and finally substituting him in the first half of a friendly with West Germany at Lansdowne Road.
Brady cruelly missed out on the glory days, a travesty for a man considered among the greatest Irish players of all time.
The Dubliner has become renowned for his punditry work with RTE, often proving a foil to Eamon Dunphy’s wilder opinions. Criticised by some for his staunch defence of Giovanni Trapattoni, for whom he served as assistant upon the Italian’s appointment to the Irish hot-seat, Brady has always backed up his arguments with constructive reasoning.
The 58th-year-old will leave his post as head of Arsenal’s youth academy at the end of the season after 18 years.