It fell to Ballls the solemn duty of breaking the news to David O'Leary. "What? He's gone?"
O'Leary has been away, and ahead of his return to Dublin with Arsenal for the International Champions Cup game with Chelsea, was unaware that Eamon Dunphy had called time on his 40-year career with RTE. "Good God...40 years...I remember him starting off, and he was making a bang even then".
O'Leary, of course, became one of the lightning rods for Dunphy's criticism of Jack Charlton. O'Leary was frozen out by Charlton at the start of Jack's reign, for which Dunphy pilloried him. It ended in redemption, with O'Leary weaving his way into folklore against Romania.
O'Leary admits that the strength of the criticism from Dunphy and others probably further entrenched Charlton's position.
Jack was great for Ireland and Ireland was great for him, but Jack let himself down.
I was in the best form of my career when he left me out for those two, three years, won a couple league titles. But I think Jack being the stubborn man that he was, with Eamon and all these people at home got on the bandwagon about David O’Leary, made him all the more stubborn that he wasn’t going to pick me.
Then when he did pick me, I was shocked.
That said, O'Leary did not wish to raise the issue with Dunphy.
No I wouldn't say anything to Eamon, as one week he could be praising you and one week he could be hammering you! I left it, we all know Eamon has his opinions and I think he did rate me as a footballer which I’m grateful for.
O'Leary returns to Dublin on Wednesday with a new-look Arsenal. As a measure of the size of the shift at Arsenal: O'Leary hadn't started his managerial career the last time anyone but Arsene Wenger was in the dugout.
It's Unai Emery's job now, and O'Leary says there is a palpable air of freshness around the squad. "He has brought in some fresh ideas, and everyone is that bit sharper looking to impress".
O'Leary says that the minimum ambition for Arsenal should be to re-establish themselves in the Champions League positions, and says that the World Cup may give Arsenal an advantage in the early weeks of the season.
We are very fortunate in that we have most of our players back, so we are lucky.
We play Man City in our first game, and for all of Man City’s tremendous qualities, they had nine players at the World Cup so that's going to have an impact on them. We play them in the first game of the season and while no game against Man City will be easy, it’s not a bad time to be getting them. They'll have a lot of players who will just be back after the World Cup, and some of them are unlikely to be involved in that game.
As for Arsene Wenger, O'Leary admits that he "doesn't have a clue" what the erstwhile boss will do now, but does believe that Arsenal will cope with the departure of their long-serving manager.
"All the big clubs have tried to learn from Alex Ferguson leaving Manchester United. I know Arsenal went through a long process to find a replacement, and they’ve decided on Unai Emery and I hope it is a great success".
Another of O'Leary's former clubs have appointed a new manager, too, although their searching for a new boss is nowhere near as newsworthy as Arsenal doing so. That Leeds have gone for Marcelo Bielsa is, however.
O'Leary admits that he "doesn't have a clue" what to expect to Bielsa. "I hope they get back to the Premier League. It's a great city with great fans, but first of all they have to get back to the playoffs because they haven't been anywhere near that in a long time".
Arsenal face Chelsea in the International Champions Cup at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on Wednesday, 1 August (KO 8pm). Tickets are still available at www.ticketmaster.ie