herald

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Tributes as football 'institution' Giles leaves RTE on high

The Euro 2016 final was Giles’ last game as a pundit for RTE
The Euro 2016 final was Giles’ last game as a pundit for RTE

For decades they were the four amigos of Irish soccer - Bill O'Herlihy, Eamon Dunphy, Liam Brady and John Giles - now the four have become two.

Last night's UEFA Euro final between France and Portugal was the last time football "institution" Giles was a pundit for RTE.

It comes two years after that team bade an emotional farewell to the late Mr O'Herlihy, when he announced his retirement.

Giles began working at RTE in the early 1980s and has been a staple on its soccer panels since then.

Head of Sport at RTE, Ryle Nugent, heaped praise on Giles and said he was at the forefront of soccer at the station for three decades.

"Our instructions have always been to 'call it as you see it' and obviously John was at the forefront of that, along with Liam, Eamon and Bill - they were the start of that," he said.

"John has been an institution. He has educated countless generations who watch soccer - be it the Premier League or European football."

He said we now take for granted the sort of analysis that Giles helped to pioneer throughout his career with the national broadcaster.

Sadness

Fellow sports broadcasting legend Jimmy Magee said Giles' departure was tinged with sadness.

"I'm sure he will be missed. He'll be missed by me anyway and I'm sure he'll be missed by anyone who loves football.

"He probably knows, and has displayed that he knows, more about the game than any other Irishman of his time," said Magee.

He was sure Giles would be snapped up by another broadcaster and couldn't understand why RTE did not want to renew his contact. "Man should not be judged by his age, but by his ability," he said.

Liam Brady also paid a warm tribute to his colleague over the weekend.

"Ours is a team which has been playing together for a long, long time and I'm certainly sad that it's breaking up now.

"I know Eamon feels the same way and I know John does too," he said in a piece he wrote for the Irish Examiner.

Brady explained how he was aged just 17 when he first met Giles, who at the time was the Ireland manager.

He said that his football commentary was easy to understand, clear and usually right.

"I reckon he's as good as it gets at this job," said Mr Brady.

Giles has promised he is not retiring and he will continue to comment on football, including writing weekly for this paper.

Future

Speaking in March, he said he also would not rule out other television work.

"I'll be busy with my work for the Herald, Newstalk radio and I wouldn't rule out television work in the future," he said.

"I've had an amazing time working with Eamon, Liam and the late Bill O'Herlihy for many years and some fantastic memories," he added.

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