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Wednesday 19 December 2018

Dublin link is strong for boss Chris but Wales comes first

Wales manager Chris Coleman
Wales manager Chris Coleman

The walk from Russell Avenue, in East Wall, across the city to Lansdowne Road would take no more than half an hour.

It's a trek, a pilgrimage, even, which Paddy Coleman would have taken on Friday evening, from his homeplace on the northside to the sporting arena where his son, Chris, plans to mastermind an upset for Wales against Ireland in the World Cup qualifiers.

Make no mistake about it, Chris Coleman's link to Ireland is strong as his dad, Paddy, was born in Dublin 3 and only moved away, to Swansea, for work reasons when he was 20.

Chris could even have played international football for Ireland and he revealed this week that there was even an approach from the FAI for him to ditch the red of Wales and adopt the green of Ireland early in his career.

"There was talk about when Jackie Charlton was manager of the Republic and a tentative phone call came my way," Coleman said. "But my dad always pushed me to play for Wales."

Emotion

Coleman has spoken with real emotion in the past when discussing his dad, who died three years ago at the age of 74, and the Wales boss said that one of his regrets about the side's success at Euro 2016 was that his dad wasn't around to see it.

The Wales manager did engage in a touch of the begorrahs when speaking to the Welsh media about his dad, saying that he scattered his dad's ashes in the Liffey along with a pint of Guinness (local tradition according to Coleman) which cost €8, even though locals are bemused by the talk of tipping a pint of stout into the river along with the ashes, or the fact that the Brazen Head sell pints of the stuff for €8.

But you can't doubt the affection that Coleman had for his dad, and the city which produced Paddy Coleman and sent him on his way to work in Swansea.

"Throwing a pint of Guinness into the Liffey (with the ashes) is a done thing there, especially where he was from in the East Wall of Dublin," Coleman said.

"We did it next to the Brazen Head, he always said make sure you do it there. It was his request. But if I'm honest I did have a little drop of Guinness first... it was eight euros a pint! My two sisters and (wife) Charlotte were with me when we did it. It was incredibly poignant."

But clearly, Coleman Snr left his mark on the Wales manager.

"I started playing football at the age of seven and he guided me, he never raised his voice," he says.

"I've watched parents sometimes on the touchlines at youth games and they are screaming and shouting, which is not the way to go.

Accent

"But he was the opposite to that. He was always a quiet talker - he never lost his Dublin accent - but he was massive for me as a youngster. I used to take him back to Dublin most summers for a few days.

"He would have a little roam around where he was brought up.

"He loved football and would have loved this - he would have been ecstatic."

Coleman's links with Irish football to date are brief. He had team-mates like Dubliner Jeff Kenna at Blackburn Rovers, and in his time as manager of Coventry City, a host of Irishmen played for the Sky Blues under Coleman: internationals Keiren Westwood, Clinton Morrison, Leon Best and Michael Doyle, even League of Ireland import Gary Deegan.

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