'I gave Allardyce his first job in management', says Irish priest
The Irish priest who gave 'Big Sam' Allardyce his first ever job in football management has urged the English Football Association (FA) to appoint him as the new national coach.
Fr Joe Young was the chairman of Limerick FC when he contacted Allardyce in 1991 and asked him to come on board as manager.
"I have always had the greatest admiration for him," Fr Young told the Herald, as he said he was delighted to hear the manager was in the running for the top England job.
He joked about when he contacted Allardyce to offer him the Limerick job, he didn't believe the offer was genuine and hung up the phone.
"I contacted him to become manager, but he ended up playing as well," he said.
Following England's utter humiliation at Euro 2016 - crashing out 2-1 to Iceland in the round of 16 - manager Roy Hodgson immediately stepped down.
Allardyce has now been named as the favourite to replace him.
Earlier this week Sunderland - the manager's current club - gave the English FA permission to talk to him.
Fr Young was bursting with pride at the success of Big Sam's career and was gushing in praise for the manager's abilities.
He urged the FA to give him the job - which could make him the first ever former League of Ireland manager to manage the English national team.
"I certainly would feel he would make an enormous contribution [to England]," he said.
"I found him to be very, very focused. He knew what he needed to do and all he needed was the resources to do it."
Allardyce is still a popular figure in Limerick, having taken the team to the top of the League of Ireland first division in his only season there.
"If we had the players, we could have had a shot at Europe," Fr Young said.
"He never did things by half measures. When he was in the dressing room, one of the things he put into the players would be to take the support they were being given [from fans]," he said.
At the time, down-to-earth Sam used to help Fr Young ask for money from local business for the wages of players, because the club was struggling financially.
"He called in a few favours. Divine intervention. I'd go and collect money with the priest. Fantastic," Allardyce once recalled in an interview with the Telegraph in Britain.
"Watching Joe, with his faith, was a massive eye-opener.
"He looked after one of the poorest parishes in Limerick, working with people who were struggling, down and out, but it never got him down. We had a brilliant time.
"We travelled all over the country in a little minibus, playing games and winning," he added.
Fr Young said that when he worked at West Ham, Allardyce asked him to be a club chaplain and he hopes a similar offer would be extended if he got the England job.
"I would say to Big Sam it's time he had a little visit to Lourdes with me and as a result of the spiritual experience, his players will walk on water for him," he said.