Sunday 19 January 2020

'I didn't have drive needed for Man Utd'

Emergence of Parrott reminds one-time boy wonder of mistakes in his early days

Robbie Brady poses for a portrait at the Republic of Ireland team hotel in Dublin
Robbie Brady poses for a portrait at the Republic of Ireland team hotel in Dublin
Troy Parrott during a Republic of Ireland training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown

He doesn't have the look of a grizzled veteran, so it's hard t o believe that Robbie Brady could be ten years older than any member of an Ireland squad.

The presence of Troy Parrott in camp this week has changed that. Brady was born in January 1992.

His fellow Dubliner, Parrott, was a February 2002 baby. There's a novelty value around his presence in the squad as Brady was used to being the young man in an old dressing room.

At Euro 2016, Brady, Jeff Hendrick and Shane Duffy were the freshest face to start a game. In a short space of time, the profile has cha nged.

Brady can relate to Parrott's situation, however, regardless of the age gap. His arrival as the next big thing is a reminder that a decade has passed since he was saddled with expectation at Manchester United. Watching Parrott train prompted introspection.


For Brady, there is a tinge of envy that the Spurs player seems to be tuned into what's required while on the books of a top club. It was only moving out of Old Trafford that delivered a young Brady that realisation.

"When I was younger I didn't have the drive that it took to force myself into a Manchester United first team," admits Brady.

"I was sort of thrown in there. I was young, away from everyone. I was going back to Dublin all the time.

"In hindsight I would have done some things different. I was a young lad from Dublin, I'd just signed for Man United. I was on top of the world. Anything anyone said to me I was taking it in my stride.

"Not that I'd thought I'd made it by any means. When you go to a club of such stature, you may have a good name here but when you go over there you have to prove yourself and do all things right, which I didn't do, half of the time."

There was a theory that his personality wasn't forceful enough. A well told story about his early days is Alex Ferguson bollocking Brady for not standing up for himself when Cristiano Ronaldo brazenly took his place in the queue for food in the canteen.

"All stories grow arms and legs," he smiles, "Maybe there was a bit of naivety. I was a young lad from Dublin. Some of the lads who would have been around clubs like Man United from seven, eight, nine years of age, they had a feel for it. It probably took me a couple of years to get all that onboard.

"It's great for Troy now," said Brady, agreeing that Parrott might be more clued in.

"No one pushes on as quick as he does without going in and doing things right. He seems to have got his head down, he's training well, pushing on great, and progressing great.

"It's mad because, we haven't been blessed with youth in the squad. It's brilliant that he's come in as the fresh face, the stature of him for 17. It's brilliant. He's clever, he's got an eye for a pass, an eye for a goal, a big frame.

"We'll look after him as best as we can this week and get to know him that bit better before the games. He's a confident young lad, he didn't train like he was nervous yesterday. We'll help him if he needs anything but he doesn't seem to need anything at the minute."

Leaving United for Hull was the trigger for Brady to advance to another level. He's forged a very respectable career for himself, but the prospect of another campaign defining game with Denmark offers the Burnley player the chance to draw a line under a two-year spell in his career which he describes in one word as 'awful.'

A month after the 5-1 defeat to the Danes in November 2017, Brady suffered a freakish knee injury that kept him out for the guts of ten months and it's been very stop-start since then.


"You think everything is going to be perfect as soon as you have been stitched up but the surgeon told me it was going to be close to two years before I am back to my best, not that I believed him for a second.

"I just thought 'What does he know.'

"Things tended to pile up after that and it seemed to be one thing after another. I have picked up a lot of different traits over that time, both mentally and physically to make myself the best that I can be."

Brady says he experimented with changes with his diet and looked at other aspects of his fitness that wouldn't be a concern for a player that was occupied with games.

Part of that is the transition towards another stage of his career where he needs to look after himself better.

A sense of lost time heightens that view. He made contact with Mick McCarthy to find out why he had missed out last month.

Lack of gametime was the response, but he's upped his contribution at Burnley and will feature against New Zealand tomorrow with a view to a greater role in the big one.

He's still got time to add a few more chapters to his Irish story.

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