The European Championships are over and not only were issues on the pitch important, but one story that may have slipped under the radar for a lot of people, was the TV retirement from RTE of Johnny Giles.
John had decided before the tournament that this would be his last, mind you I feel the national broadcaster could have done a lot more to keep him. It was not to be and when France and Portugal finally brought the curtain down on the 2016 Euro’s, one of the greatest analysts in the history of the game called time as well.
A lot of the readers of this article will remember Johnny Giles as a midfield maestro for Leeds United and the Republic of Ireland. When Don Revie was appointed England manager, the story goes that Revie told the Leeds board to appoint John as his successor, alas politics got in the way and Johnny missed out, a dreadful decision in my opinion. John Giles is arguably the greatest player to have pulled on the green shirt of the Republic of Ireland. His playing career saw him appear for Manchester United, Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion, Vancouver Whitecaps and Shamrock Rovers. John also managed West Bromwich Albion, Vancouver Whitecaps, Shamrock Rovers and the Republic of Ireland. Whilst in charge of Ireland, John handed a debut to Liam Brady against the USSR in October 1974.
When John finally hung up his boots on what can only be described as a fantastic football career, both on and off the pitch, he was approached by RTE to join their panel in 1986. The main reason that RTE asked John was on the advice of his friend Eamon Dunphy. Both John and Eamon went back a long way and were teammates at Manchester United. The decision to get John involved was one of the best decisions by any producer in the history of any football programme. John took to his new pundit role like a duck to water.
Over the years he has been involved in eight world cups, eight european championships and numerous other games the national broadcaster decided to show, calling every game as if it was his first. His knowledge of the game was second to none and very rarely called a game wrong. The gift John had, was to call it as he saw it and not to give the public any bullshit.
It was John’s straight talking that got him into bother in the nineties when he was asked on Sky to analyse a Leeds United game, the match was dreadful and John said so, this was total shock horror to Sky as they never like to run down their own product. It was John’s one and only appearance on Sky to analyse a game and in my opinion not having him on a regular basis was their loss.
Over the years the RTE panel has had its changes, but when Liam Brady was introduced to join John and Eamon, things could have not got any better. Over the years the three would argue out talking points and this would make great television, in fact if you ever get a chance, have a look at some of the famous arguments and I am sure you will agree John Giles was brilliant.
Over the past few years the station has been bringing through younger pundits and this seems to be the way RTE want to go. We will never see the likes of Johnny Giles again as a football pundit and in my opinion the show will be poorer for his absence. The midfield general has not gone completely as he remains the top football analyst for Newstalk Radio in Ireland.
John Giles is and always will be my hero. I have met the man on many occasions and the man is a true gentleman. The stories John tells would have you sitting in awe. The modern game I feel has caught up with John, and as he moves on let us all thank him for the memories. A little known fact about John is that if you put a gin and tonic in his hand, he can give you a good sing song. Let us all hope he has plenty to sing about over the coming years and may we all once again thank him for the memories.