“I live in Jobstown and I’m with Leicester City nine years, responsible for scouting players in Ireland from the age 12 up to 21’s. I’ll liaise with the first team manager Claudio Ranieri on some occasions. He is a lovely, lovely man, so mellow, so relaxed, I was over there the week of the Man Utd game as they were going for the league title and everyone was so relaxed. That is the effect he has on the players.
When I was involved with Crumlin United Bill Waldron, who was a scout with Leicester City, came over to give a talk, this was in 2007. We clicked straight away and he said “would you like to do a bit of scouting for me?’ and I said I would and that’s how I started. The atmosphere at Leicester is just a different class, I love working for them. I bring kids over there all the time and there is a real family atmosphere at the club. That’s what we have over all the other clubs. All the young players stay together in the same digs.
You see that team spirit that the first team have? That is nurtured from the under 18’s all living together. If I want to assess a player I’ll go and watch them three times to get an overall picture of their ability. Nowadays clubs are becoming more interested in not just skill but what a player is like off the field. You can’t put a bad apple into a team. If you give a kid too much too early they won’t work as hard. Claudio Ranieri is all about the work ethic so we try not to give kids pro deals. We try to give them stability, I care about the players’ welfare and only want the best for them, I’m not an agent out to make money off them. If it doesn’t work out at Leicester I’ll try and get them in with another club through my contacts.”
The standard of schoolboy football in this country has improved so much in the last decade and this hopefully bodes well for the Ireland teams of the future. I’m very optimistic this country is going to produce many more great players.