I cringe at the celebration when a young lad gets a contract at sixteen.
Brian Kerr was on Second Captains Football this evening where he discussed the pitfalls that young Irish footballers when heading across to England.
He laments that players are getting sucked into this 'unreal bubble of professional football' where the chances of making it at the highest level are very slim, while simultaneously neglecting their education.
Robbie Keane, Damien Duff and Richard Dunne are 'freaks' and the exceptions to the rule.
Kerr can't bear to listen to the excessive enthusiasm when a teenager gets a contract to head across the water.
I cringe at the celebration when a young fella starts going on trials at 13 or 14 and I cringe at the celebration when they get a contract at 16 and even when it's a good contract which is hard to resist, I understand that. I hear people whispering on sidelines saying 'City are tracking and he might going to City and he might be going to Chelsea' and I'm thinking 'what chance has he of making it at Chelsea?' But if the educational side is provided seriously, then they have done a good job, but I don't think they do a good job.
He ran through the current situations of the players he had who won the U16 European Championship in 1998.
Interestingly, six of them were capped at full international level. Seven of them are actually playing regular first team professional football. If you take Joe Murphy at Huddersfield, John O'Shea at Sunderland, Jim Goodwin assistant manager at St. Mirren, Liam Miller just to come back to Cork from Australia, had a great career, Andy Reid, out injured at Forest. Jonathan Douglas, who only played in one of those games, has had a fantastic career and is still playing away at Brentford near the top of the championship. John Thompson had an interesting career, had to give it up a few years ago...
He notes that even those who didn't make it at the highest level have gotten on well in life. And according to Kerr there is a very good reason for this - 'the key thing in that is the majority of them were still here to do their leaving cert before they went to England.'
Some of them drifted out of it but they've all done relatively well. I think of Liam George (he was in another group), he's a full-time physio. Dave McMahon, scored one of the goals in the final, he's a physio up around Newcastle. Graham Barrett, he's working as an agent. Dessie Byrne, he's working as an agent. Plenty of them are still around in football but they've all done all-right in life.
You can listen to the discussion from around the 30:00 mark.