Keith Andrews Confirms Ireland Players Ignored Trapattoni To 'Play Ball' In 2009 Paris Playoff

Keith Andrews Confirms Ireland Players Ignored Trapattoni To 'Play Ball' In 2009 Paris Playoff

Difficult as it is to believe, it's now seven-and-a-half years since Ireland's World Cup qualifier playoff defeat to France.

While Thierry Henry's handball now largely manifests itself as a ban**r joke in the very bowels of football Twitter, Ireland's expressive performance during the second leg in Paris is still used to this as a yardstick to which all subsequent 'unattractive' displays have inevitably been compared, most notably when it's suggested that Ireland 'don't have the players to play an attractive brand of football' and all hell breaks loose on the RTÉ panel.

A 1-0 normal time victory for Giovanni Trapattoni's men could hardly have contrasted their hapless reversal at Croke Park four days prior, Robbie Keane's neat finish after a nice move the crowning moment of a fine display as Ireland threw off the shackles and took the game to the French.

Subsequent heartbreak aside, the game entered Irish football folklore as a night when Ireland's players disregarded their manager's typically conservative approach, finally showing us what they were capable of with the ball at feet and not in mid-air. It's a fanciful notion, perhaps, but one which gained credence when Trap's Ireland returned to what Spanish publication Marca would describe during Euro 2012 as 'Stone Age football' for the following qualification campaign. Until the playoff first leg in Talinn, at least.

An integral member of Trap's squad, Keith Andrews joined us for the second episode of Friends in Football which was released earlier this week, and shed some light on the theories that Trap was a 'systems man', banishing more mercurial talents who didn't abide by his structured approach to the game. Andrews also confirmed that the 2009 playoff leg in Paris saw Ireland's players make a conscious decision to play football as they chased a 1-0 deficit.

It was very restrictive. Glenn Whelan still gets stick now which is absolutely ridiculous. Every week you check teamsheets - whatever game I'm working, you'd obviously have one eye on the Irish lads. Every single week, for how many years, he's been in the Stoke team. Good player. But the thing that fans don't realise, is that certain people in the squad were pushed to one side because they wouldn't buy into what the manager wanted you to do.

So, on those one-off games, when we're either a little bit desperate - in Paris where we know we have to come back from a goal down. Or Estonia, where we kind of feel, 'This is our opportunity,' in the main you can't be going and doing your own thing to a degree, in our 'philosophy' shall we say under Trapattoni.

[But] I think the players took it upon themselves, realising the situation and the scenario we were in. We had really good leaders in that team. I loved walking out of the tunnel next to Shay, Richard Dunne - I felt like a gladiator walking next to him [Dunne]. When he put on that jersey he was like a man mountain. Robbie, Duffer obviously, I loved playing with. I just felt we had those leaders within the group. We always seemed to play better when we played together.

Was the football superb to watch? No, of course it wasn't - in the main. But in terms of results, and how productive that period was, I genuinely think it was a success.


Referring to Trap almost exclusively as 'Mr. Trapattoni' throughout the interview, Andrews still retains the utmost respect for the former Ireland manager.

You can listen to Andrews' full appearance on Friends in Football below, where he also revealed what exactly went wrong behind the scenes at Euro 2012.

SEE ALSO: Keith Andrews Gives Extremely Revealing Explanation As To What Went Wrong At Euro 2012

Gavan Casey
Article written by
Former handwriting champion. Was violently bitten by a pelican at Fota Wildlife Park in 2001.

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