herald

Sunday 26 March 2017

Kinsella: 'Gentleman Graham was old school'

Graham Taylor, in his role as manager of Watford, pictured shaking hands with St Pat's boss Liam Buckley before a friendly at Richmond Park, Inchicore in July 1999
Graham Taylor, in his role as manager of Watford, pictured shaking hands with St Pat's boss Liam Buckley before a friendly at Richmond Park, Inchicore in July 1999

An unflattering TV documentary made during his reign as England manager may have left an unfair picture of Graham Taylor in the mind of the public.

But footballers who played under the former Watford, Wolves and Aston Villa boss, who died suddenly at the age of 72, have spoken with genuine warmth about Taylor.

"From the first time I met him, I knew he was a gentleman. He was like a schoolteacher, he didn't lose his temper, he wasn't aggressive," recalls former Ireland international Mark Kinsella (right).

Paul McGrath and Tony Cascarino both to social media to pay tribute to Taylor. "Paid a record fee for me at Villa. Didn't have enough time with him. A great manager and a truly great man," said Cascarino.

"What a gentleman. In my darkest days himself and Rita were always there for me," commented McGrath.

Taylor managed just five sides in a 30-year career: Lincoln, Watford and Aston Villa (two spells), England (1990-93) and Wolves (1994-95).

A regular contributor to Newstalk radio station in retirement, Taylor's ties with Ireland were strong, and McGrath credits Taylor with helping to save his career when he joined Villa in 1989 while as England boss he battled with Jack Charlton's Ireland side in the qualifiers for Euro 92.

Taylor's last job was at Aston Villa (February 2002 to May 2003) and one of his first signings was Kinsella, who unexpectedly moved after the World Cup finals.

"It wasn't easy for him as we had a hard season at Villa, players had left and not a lot had come in so it wasn't an ideal place to be. I knew that Graham had battles all the time," Kinsella told The Herald. "But he always kept his head and was dignified, you could always go and speak to him about a problem, he'd have a chat with you one-to-one.

"I am disappointed that it didn't work out better, Graham saw something in me as a player and brought me in but it didn't work out.

"When people asked me about managers I had worked under, Graham always stood out as someone who was more like a teacher, he spoke to you like a schoolteacher would, always calm, he wasn't one for ranting and raving. He was a shirt-and-tie manager, old school. It was a tough dressing room. He was trying to rebuild Villa, it was a tough job but he always kept his dignity."

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