“If you don’t like it go play for another country.”
Niall Quinn played for Ireland from 1986 right up to the 2002 World Cup, with a number of those years under the stewardship of Irish legendary figure Jack Charlton.
Quinn also lined out for Arsenal, Manchester City and Sunderland in a successful career over in England, scoring a total of 140 goals in 474 games.
The former Sunderland chairman, and manager for a brief period, recalled one of his first training sessions with Ireland and Jack Charlton’s style.
When Quinn was asked whether the former Ireland manager really called him “a headless chicken” when they first met, during an interview with Paddy Power’s podcast From The Horse’s Mouth, Quinn replied, “Regularly!”
“Yeah he’d stop in the middle of training and goes ‘what are you doing, you’re running around like a headless chicken, just stand still’ ya know,” he continued
“I was taught to go for the ball and was working on my touch. I wanted to show off to him that I had a good touch.
“He went ‘you’re not here for your first touch, get at the far post. Hold your ground.’
“And when they win it, drop back in and be a fifth midfielder so we had to make a line of five.
“Now they do that today, in a more sort of military fashion but in those days it was unheard of.
“I was like, ‘Hang on a second, we have the ball we’re going forward and I’ve to run back into midfield in case we lose it?’
“And he went, ‘Yeah, and if you don’t like it go play for another country.'”
📆 ON THIS DAY…
3️⃣0️⃣ years ago, Niall Quinn pounced to keep Ireland advancing at the 1990 FIFA World Cup
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) June 21, 2020
The 1966 World Cup Winner was not for changing. Charlton took offence when John Aldridge did an interview claiming Irish forwards were “going to turn their legs into tree-stumps” due to the amount of running they would have to do.
“I remember John Aldridge saying publicly, anybody who plays up front for Ireland is going to turn their legs into tree-stumps they were running that much,” Quinn recalled.
“Jack got the hump about it, bringing it up in a team meeting.
“His answer to it was, ‘Now, John, you’ve to do it twice as much or I won’t pick you again.’ So, that was Jack’s way.”
However, Quinn, who scored 21 goals in 92 international caps, believes that Charlton was ahead of his time, particularly when his teams did not have the ball.
He feels the former Leeds United player was doing what Jurgen Klopp is trying to do now with his Liverpool team.
“Now, it was primitive, but I think it was primitive when we had the ball because we were very much a long-ball team” Quinn admitted.
“But, I think off the ball we were doing everything that Klopp is asking his Liverpool players to do now in terms of making a wall when you hadn’t got the ball.”