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The Euro 2016 Punditry 5-A-Side - Who Is The Best Team?

By Conor Neville
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We understand that the Sportsco at Ringsend is set to host a punditry 5-a-side tournament for the terrestrial stations in Ireland and the UK. The teams will be comprised of the station's European championship teams.

We profile the teams ahead of the big day. Bear in mind the English stations are flying in on the day and are likely to spend a few hours drinking in O'Donoghues beforehand.


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RTE are noted for a fearless and aggressive style of play. The selectors encourage the lads to express themselves and have a cut at it.

Points of interest: 

Their Irish rivals have long believed that the authorities favour them unfairly. 

Fly Keeper: Eamon Dunphy

Erratic, impulsive and prone to lunge in, Dunphy is liable to abuse referees and even turn on teammates. Rene Higuita type.


Actual playing ability: A journeyman not like those guys beside him. His own verdict.

Liam Brady

The antidote to Dunphy's flamboyance, Brady is a gritty, defensive-minded pundit who always anticipates the worst.

Actual playing ability: His implacable realism as a pundit sits oddly alongside his artistry as a footballer, an artistry that Jack Charlton mistrusted.


Didi Hamann

Irish football fans tend to worship any foreigner who sits in on the RTE panel. All the more so when the pundit in question waxes lyrical about the frankness of our pundits. Ossie Ardiles tested this thesis by being rather difficult to understand but Didi is beloved.

Actual playing ability: Destructive and reliable midfielder. Will have to slip into defence for the state broadcaster.

John Giles

The unquestioned king for years and years, the trendier crop of young couch gurus now feel he should have been put out to pasture ages ago. This view, which would have been regarded as blasphemous a decade ago, is now de rigeur. This tournament will be his swansong. Still knows how to control things.


Actual playing ability: One of the aforementioned guys beside Eamon Dunphy, Giles won everything in English domestic football and was instrumental as Leeds reached the 1975 European Cup Final.

Damien Duff

Inexperienced at this level, Duffer has shown flashes of promising bluntness in his brief appearances before now. Hopefully like he will rise to the occasion in his new surroundings. The RTE higher ups encourage lads to take the shackles off.

Actual playing ability: Electric winger who hit his peak around 2002 and maintained his form for two or three years after.



Less hard tackling than their moneyed rivals in RTE, this low budget outfit aren't afraid to take risks in selection.


GK: Emma Byrne

TV3 have taken a lead in throwing females into their starting line-up. A popular move during the Rugby World Cup

Actual playing ability: Republic of Ireland goalkeeper for the last thousand years, she has won a Champions League and numerous English honours with the Arsenal ladies.

Joey Barton

Potentially a protege of Dunphy with his philosophical flights of fancy and his wider than average breadth of reference for a football pundit.


Actual playing ability: Decent but overshadowed by, initially, his temper, and, latterly, his online persona.

Harry Redknapp

Stock has fallen dramatically in recent years. We're not sure how he'll cope in Ballymount without his normal accompanying soundtrack of Robbie Savage laughter.

Actual playing ability: Humble enough operator for West Ham in the 60s and early 70s. Later Bournemeath and a few NASL outfits.

Graeme Souness

Popular and elegant, his performances can be more prosaic than is sometimes remembered. Curiously overrated by all for some reason, possibly on account of his enduring coolness.

Actual playing ability: The Roy Keane of the 1980s, but a bit nastier and with a more flamboyant passing game.

Gerry Armstrong

Well traveled, he's very experienced down in Spain but little known as a pundit up here. Another one of those ringers who's picked up by the terrestrials for a major tournament.

Actual playing ability: Not exactly a superstar, he toiled away for the likes of Watford and Brighton. Totally remembered for the one goal.




Bankrolled by the UK taxpayer, they can afford to splash out on big names. However, they have often bought unwisely, throwing dosh at flashy foreigners who can't adjust to the punditry game in England. The management don't help by imposing a rigid, cautious gameplan which leaves pundits in a straitjacket. 

GK: Jens Lehmann

Another of those exotic looking ringers that the BBC draft in for the summer extravaganzas. They rarely deliver in the punditry booth.

Actual playing ability: Impetuous and cranky Arsenal goalie who acted the maggot for many years.

Rio Ferdinand

Smooth talking defender who surprised people with his competent punditry performance of four years ago. Will presumably hang around as long as his predecessor at centre half.

Actual playing ability: Should slot in at centre half. Fairly elegant but it was always fun to see him get ridiculed.

Frank Lampard

Untested at this level of punditry and not likely to cut loose this time around given his inexperience and his closeness to some of the 'boys'. Year in New York may have led to him growing accustomed to easy money.

Actual playing ability: Not bad but invariably shite for England.  

Thierry Henry

A preening and ludicrously overpriced waste of a chair who'll contribute little to the proceedings. Resting on past laurels and a bed of money.

Actual playing ability: A zooty baller who was as effective as he was fashionable. Thrilling to watch in the mid noughties.

Alan Shearer

Much maligned over the years, he has upped his game in recent times and could well put in a decent shift. Coming into his own. Moments of magic are rare but you'll see honesty of effort.

Actual playing ability: The gold standard of traditional English centre forward play. The finest example of the genre seen for fifty years.



The most abused and traduced of all the sides turning up the Sportsco next week. Missing some key players for this tournament (Keano).

GK: Richard Dunne

Like RTE, ITV have no goalie to stick on the line, so they're going to have plump for the new boy Richard Dunne, who they've poached from TV3's Champions League coverage.

Actual playing ability: He repelled the Russians as we know, which has prompted us to put him in goal.

Slaven Bilic

We don't know much about his chops in the punditry game but his persona intrigues us. However, his position as a current manager in England is worrying. May play a cagey game.

Actual playing ability: A central defender whom popular culture primarily remembers for 'diving' in the 1998 World Cup semi-final. A cursory viewing of the incident reveals that Blanc slapped him in the mouth and deserved the line.

Christian Karembeu

An untested ringer who seems to spend most of his time turning up at draws and various other UEFA/FIFA events. These guys rarely deliver.

Actual playing ability:  


Lothar Matthaus

We've not seen too much from him but we've seen enough of Glenn Hoddle to know he's rubbish so Lothar is in.

If Didi is anything to go by, the Germans have a tendency to show some disarming frankness on these occasions. We wait and see.

Actual playing ability: Peerless. The pivotal figure at Italia 90.

Ian Wright

Class clown who was previously regarded as epitomising everything that was wrong with the English (punditry) game. Opinion has softened towards him now.

Actual playing ability: An idol in the 1990s, he was on the wane by the time Arsenal started winning things and he looked ordinary next to Thierry.  



Read more: Joxer Goes To Stuttgart - Where Are They Now?

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