Paul McGrath has insisted that the Republic of Ireland’s players will thrive on the pressure they’ll be under in what is a very difficult European Championship group phase this summer.
The iconic former Irish international was speaking to Ryan Tubridy at what was his first Late Late Show appearance since the Gay Byrne era some 15 years ago.
“Trapatonni has done quite a good job,” said McGrath. “He has got us there at least, so we’re all happy. I thought that we might not get to the finals to be honest. But the more pressure you put on the Irish team, the more they push back. I’m hoping that will happen at the finals.”
In the interview, 52 year old Paul spoke movingly about his family background and how, at the age of five, he was sent “kicking and screaming” to an orphanage in Dun Laoghaire. But, it was there that his love for football grew.
“We built a pitch at the end of the orphanage,” he said. “For me it was Wembley, it was like a dream.”
But when the dream actually began to come true and he signed for Manchester United, Paul was affected terribly by nerves.
“Going to England was something I really didn’t want to do,” he said. “I didn’t want every week to have someone scrutinizing me. I was a nervous wreck, but I was excited. I had to give them [United] a go.”
Paul also talked about his alcoholism, saying that he found his first drink, at the age of 18, a liberating experience.
“I think it was a double Southern Comfort or something. It made me feel like I could dance with any woman I wanted to. I was God’s gift to women. Then I had a few more and a few more and it made me feel sick. The Dutch courage was what I drank for.”
Paul said that ex Ireland manager Jack Charlton was acutely aware of his star man”s drink problem.
“He had people sitting outside my door [so Paul wouldn't go out]. I accepted it because I wanted to be in the team.”
Paul also revealed that he has been sober for 18 months. “There have been one or two bumps along the way,” he said, “but I’m in a much better place than I was.”
Good to know that Paul. Very good to know that in fact and thanks for the memories.