Former France manager Raymond Domenech has admitted that he would still like to manage the Ireland national side one day.
Domenech, who led Les Bleus to the World Cup final in 2006 (but was much less successful in a 2010 campaign wrecked by infighting and a disastrous group stage exit), claims to have nearly become the Ireland boss in 2003 before Brian Kerr was ultimately chosen, but would still like the job if it becomes available once again.
The 66-year-old, now in charge of Brittany, was speaking to the Derry Journal while on a visit to the region in his role as president of the National Union of French Coaches (which consists of coaching sessions with Derry City’s underage sides among others), and said that while he would like the job were it to become available, he expects Martin O’Neill to be in the role for some time to come:
“I have a long past with the Irish national team.
I always said if I had the possibility one day to train the national team I would.
“I was contacted before I took the French national team job by the Irish Federation and they chose Brian Kerr which was a good choice.
“I was very interested then and I’m still interested because I like the spirit of Irish. I remember when we won in Ireland in 2005 after the game I had to go to the media and it was near the stands. I had to cross in front of all the spectators. In France they would never do that because you never know what would happen.
“But the Irish were all shaking my hand. They had respect and they are fighters so I like the spirit. I saw that in Paris some years after. But I like that.
“Martin O’Neill is a great manager and I’m sure he will be there for a long time.”
Domenech visited Ireland twice while manager of France, and emerged victorious on both occasions. The first time was a 1-0 win in a 2006 World Cup qualifier, in which Thierry Henry scored a brilliant strike, and the second was the first leg of the infamous 2010 World Cup playoff, the second leg of in which Henry was involved in a very different capacity.
He has yet to manage in a major role since leaving the French national side after their limp exit from the finals which followed.
Ireland, meanwhile, will face France once again in an international friendly at the Stade de France next month.