The name Liam Brady is as beloved in London and Turin as in his hometown of Dublin.
Brady became a club legend at Arsenal for whom
he signed schoolboy terms at 15, and would make over 300 appearances for the Gunners.
Voted club Player of the Year three times, he helped fire the Highbury side to FA Cup success in 1979, the same year he was named PFA Player of the Year, the first foreigner to win the award.
A Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final victory over
Juventus alerted the Old Lady to the Irishman’s mercurial talents and his wand-like left foot, and in 1980 they enticed him to Serie A, becoming the first recruit from abroad since Italy reinstated foreign signings.
In Turin, donning the number 10 shirt, Brady
won two Scudettos, famously dispatching a penalty in a 1–0 win against Catanzaro to clinch the 1982 championship. The limit on the number of foreigners meant the football world would never see the Dubliner line up alongside Michel Platini when the Frenchman replaced him the same year. Brady stayed in Italy for spells with Sampdoria, Inter, and Ascoli before returning to England with West Ham.
On the international stage, he was denied appearing at an international tournament through suspension when the Republic of Ireland reached Euro ‘88 and while officially he retired before a World Cup bow in 1990, history suggests the midfielder’s creativity didn’t fit with manager Jack Charlton’s more abrupt style.
Brady had made his debut in 1974 as a wavy-haired 17-year-old alongside player-manager John Giles in a memorable win over the Soviet Union at an overflowing Dalymount Park. In later years, he would describe it as the standout moment in a standout career. He went on to win 72 caps including scoring the winner in a friendly win over Brazil – his favourite goal.
The boy from Dublin’s northside, once
allegedly expelled from school for choosing a youth international over a GAA game, became one of Ireland’s greatest ever exports.
Nicknamed ‘Chippy’ for his love of the deep fried delicacy, Brady remains a staple of Ireland’s football media, remembered as a great in his home country, Britain, and Italy for a career that blazed a trail for Irish players.
Illustration by Kevin Judge, an Irish artist, illustrator and a keen advocate of footballers wearing their socks really low.
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