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Football Quotes - Paul McGrath
Paul McGrath was one of the greatest footballers to ever don the green shirt of Ireland. He was a magnificent central defender with outrageous talent who probably never reached his true potential due to injuries and off-field difficulties. Nevertheless he had so much ability that he managed to overcome these difficulties to put in many man-of-the-match performances for his clubs and for his country. In addition to earning 83 caps for Ireland he also played for St Patrick's Athletic, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Derby County, and Sheffield United.
Quotations about Paul McGrath
"He was an exceptionally skilful and stylish defender, with marvellous innate athleticism, a man whose abilities stood comparison with any central defender in the game." Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.
"I knew Paul was a world-class player. Everybody knew ... Paul was like a piece of old teak. He was a very tough lad. I don't think people realised how hard he could be if riled." Aston Villa team mate Shaun Teale.
"Gaffer, all we want is Macca playing. He's special." Aston Villa team mate Gordon Cowans talking to Ron Atkinson.
"...every player to a man took the view that he was a special case because (a) I think they recognised he had a problem, (b) he was always a popular lad with them and (c) he was magnificent when he played." Aston Villa Manager Ron Atkinson
"This is not possible. What McGrath is doing is just not possible with the amount of preparation that he's had." Aston Villa Manager Ron Atkinson's assistant Dave Sexton on McGrath's performance in the first match after Sexton had come to the club.
"Dave, that's just what the big man does ..." Ron Atkinson's response.
"Big Paul McGrath showed all the qualities demanded of us for half an hour in Giants Stadium that day. For him the word big is appropriate. Known for his poise, his ability on the ball, his unique gift for reading the game, Paul displayed these qualities on this day. One other huge asset was his courage. When the Italians did get sight of the goal, Paul presented a final, insurmountable obstacle. Paul inspired us as much as in the end he demoralised Roberto Baggio and the other Italian players " Irish team mate Roy Keane in his autobiography on McGrath's performance in the famous 1-0 win over Italy in the 1994 World Cup finals in the USA.
" 'C'mon, let me take you for a little jog, then see how it feels.' and Paul's saying, 'No Jim, my knee's too sore today' But I'm pushing. 'C'mon Paul, let's go out and try ...' I encouraged him, rightly or wrongly. And he ended up playing. 'Best player on the pitch as usual.' " Aston Villa physio Jim Walker
"The one thing I quickly came to realise with him was that he never knew or understood how good he actually was ... He had what very few players have. It's what we call an overdrive. It's the ability to be running at high pace with someone and all of a sudden, from nowhere, it's like a fifth gear kicks in. Boom, the turbo comes on. And he could just wipe out the opponents to get there. He also had guts to burn. People used to say that I was brave, mainly because I had a name for getting cut quite often. Paul just didn't get cut because he was better in the air than me. But he was every bit as brave as I was. He'd never shirk a tackle, never shirk a header" Former Manchester United and Ireland team mate Kevin Moran
"Paul had this really nonchalant way of defending. He could just sally through a game. A ball would come into the box and he'd just back-heel it to safety ... I dithered over whether I should play him or not, because Rush and Dalglish were a handful. I just wasn't sure that he was ready for them. I played him in the end and he was magnificent. Honestly, he just walked through the game. Never gave Rush a kick. And of course, Ian Rush never would score against United while McGrath was playing. We actually gave Liverpool a bit of a doing that day, came back from 1-3 down to draw 3-3. I know it doesn't sound great defensively, but McGrath was superb. It told you a lot about him." Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson on McGrath returning from serious injury.
"Class personified and a wonderful athlete. You could see he was going to be a big star" Former Republic of Ireland manager Eoin Hand
"I remember being really struck by McGrath's presence in the Irish defence. I thought to myself 'You might have problems big man, but you sure as hell can play." Graham Taylor who signed McGrath to Aston Villa from Manchester United for just £400,000.
"So Paul became vital to us at that time. He was the player we came to rely on. There was nobody else who could do the job I was asking him to do. He was fantastic. I felt I could have played him centre-forward, outside left, midfield, at the back anywhere ... and he'd have done the job for me in that position." Former Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton
"You have to wonder what a player Paul McGrath should have been." Alex Ferguson after 37 year old McGrath had been named man-of-the-match for Derby County playing against Manchester United
"Like Bobby Moore, Paul McGrath played football as though he was wearing a silk smoking jacket with a crystal glass in his hand." Daily Telegraph
"Watching him effortlessly intercept a through-ball one Saturday afternoon at the start of the 1990s, I genuinely believed, for the only time in my life, that I was sitting in the Holte End watching the world's best player in his position play for Aston Villa. Not nearly the best. Not one of the best. The best." www.oleole.com/blog
"OOH AAH Paul McGrath"
Hundreds of thousands of Irish fans any time he played for the Republic