“Much ado about nothing!”
That’s how Niall Quinn dismissed the storm that surrounded the video that was shown to Stephen Kenny’s Republic of Ireland side before the friendly against England two weeks ago.
An investigation into the video was closed last weekend after senior players and backroom staff were called before the Football Association of Ireland to discuss the footage that was played before the game at Wembley.
Former Ireland international Niall Quinn, who has close ties to the FAI, was asked for his take on the investigation and blamed the British press for pushing the story forward despite little evidence of concerns from those who watched the video.
“There was an inquiry into it. Was there even a need for it? I’m not so certain,” Quinn told Virgin Media Sport.
"Can I just remind people that this is the same setting that when they go out on the pitch, they sing 'The Soldier's Song'.
"I'm so lucky I was never asked what happened in our dressing room when we played England."
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) November 25, 2020
“It seemed to be something that was really promoted in the UK press and pushed by commentators from the political world, that it was the wrong thing to do.
“Can I just remind people that this is the same sort of setting that when they go out on to the pitch they sing the Soldier’s Song?
“It’s about getting your Irishness out there in front of you to be motivated and to play for your country.
“If this video was wrong, it means they can’t sing the national anthem from now on, because there’s words in that national anthem that say ‘We’re soldiers of Ireland…we pledge our soul to Ireland and we’ll go against the Saxon foe.”
Quinn, who stepped down from his interim FAI CEO role only two months ago, backed Kenny to use the experience as a way of proving to his players that he won’t shy away from criticism.
Kenny is still in pursuit of his first win as Ireland boss and his attempt at inspiring the squad was less troublesome in Quinn’s eyes than the fact that it made it into the media.
“When you’re trying to motivate a team, you’ve got to try different things,” Quinn continued.
“The unfortunate thing was that, somehow, it leaked out. I don’t think it was leaked out in the way it was first claimed, ‘Oh, there was big unrest. Everybody was a bit unhappy’. As it turned out, the FAI looked into it and nobody passed any remark, certainly in the context how it was presented to us.
“My feeling now is that Stephen Kenny should ride on that and say, ‘Right, OK, I’m building a team and I’m bringing motivation into my team, I’m doing it my way, the English press had a go at me but I’m going to do it the way Stephen Kenny does things’.”
With 21 goals in 91 appearances for Ireland, Quinn is relieved that there was no such a spotlight on his team when they played England in the 1990s.
Quinn concluded: “The day they take our history away from us, and tell us that we can’t even stand for our national anthem anymore, because there’s reference in there to the past…
“I’m so lucky I played and I was never asked what happened in our dressing room when we played England, because that makes this look very small indeed.”