Irish football legend heaps praise on Athletic Club during the ‘Liam Brady: The Irishman Abroad’ post-screening discussion
Liam Brady, the first Irish footballer who, after making his breakthrough at Arsenal in England, triumphed in Europe with clubs such as Juventus, Sampdoria and Inter Milan, was the star of the third day of the Thinking Football Film Festival.
International for his country 72 times, in the film Liam Brady described himself as a person “born to play football”, relating how the sport was in his blood due to family connections and depicting his deep drive to become a professional.
So it is not surprising that, after his retirement as a professional footballer, he remained involved in the world of football as a manager ( atCeltic FC and Brighton & Hove Albion), as an expert sports commentator and, above all, as Arsenal FC’s head of youth development. During his nearly two decades at the English club’s academy, he has helped bring through the likes of Ashley Cole, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe, Jack Wilshere, Serge Gnabry, Alex Iwobi, Yunus Musah and many others.
It is probably this fondness for youth football, as well as the ties between Ireland and the Basque Country, that lie behind the words of recognition and affection that dedicated to Athletic Club. “I have five grandchildren and I’m going to make them Athletic fans,” Brady stated emphatically.
He continued: “For a lot of reasons, no other club in the world could do what Athletic does. This is a special place. And I’m not just saying that because I’m here in Bilbao and I want to receive applause. I believe in Athletic. I believe in this club.”
At the end of his speech, Liam Brady wanted to address the audience in Basque and read the following message:
“Mila esker, Athletic. Niretzat, ohore handia da hemen egotea. Orain, zuetako bat naiz. Irlandako lehoi bat, baina zurigorria.” (Thank you very much, Athletic. It is an honour for me to be here with you today. From now on I am one of you. An Irish lion, but a Zurigorri).
A true Irish gentleman, Mr. Liam Brady.
Liam took part in the post-screening discussion along with the film’s director, Sean Casey, and football journalist Sid Lowe, who led the panel. As in previous days, many familiar face came to Sala BBK to enjoy Thinking Football, including Jose Angel Iribar and Óscar de Marcos.
In the first afternoon session we showed ‘Another way: The Forest Green Rovers Story’, a British film directed by Bart Corpe that tells the story of the greenest football club in the world. Marcus Reynolds, CEO of the British club, sent a video thanking Athletic Club for including the documentary in the Thinking Football line-up.