Arsenal Legends: Liam Brady, Forever Cannons and Shamrocks

Mary O'SheaSenior Writer IFebruary 26, 2009

Since shirt numbers were introduced to world football, there have been those that have been reserved for extra special players.

The No. 10 is the shirt of choice for the playmaker—Maradona and Pele the most famous. In recent years, Paolo Maldini's excellence at left-back for both AC Milan and Italy has added the No. 3 to the roll call of iconic shirt numbers.

However, one that stands out as perhaps the most famous is the No. 7.

Say "No. 7" to any Manchester United fan and they will reply "Eric Cantona." Ask the same question to any Arsenal fan and they will reply "Liam Brady."

Throughout football history there have been those players who stood on the brink of greatness and the former Arsenal and Republic of Ireland player is certainly amongst them.

Brady The Beginning

Liam Brady was born in a gloomy Dublin on the 13 February 1956.

From an early age, the young Brady showed extreme skill with the ball and as a child he played for two Dublin sides — St.Kevin's Boys and Home Farm.

His deft touches and killer left foot didn't go unnoticed and in 1970 at the age of 14 he moved to London to join Arsenal on schoolboy terms.

Brady Arsenal Career: The Makings of a Legend

In 1974, at the age of 17, Brady signed his first professional contract with the North London side.

Brady was given his first team debut by then Arsenal manager Bertie Mee, however it was under the guidance of Terry Neill and Don Howe that the Irishman really shone.

At the time, the Gunners were often hovering around the relegation zone—although never demoted—and were viewed as more a cup team.

Between 1978 and 1980, Arsenal reached the FA Cup final on three successive occasions, emerging victorious in 1979 where they defeated Manchester United. It was Brady who started the wheels in motions for the winning goal scored by Alan Sunderland.

It was to be the only trophy Brady ever won at Arsenal as a player.

Brady's skills shone through at Highbury and he was voted the club's player of the season three years running while also scooping the PFA Player of the Year in 1979.

In the 1979-1980 season, Arsenal went on a great European run only to be defeated by Valencia on penalties in the final of the Cup Winners Cup.

However, it was the semi-final of this competition that would prove more important for Brady as a player. Over two legs, Arsenal came out on top of a powerful Juventus side on a 1-0 scoreline.

So impressed were the Italians by the Irishman they bought him at the end of the season for just over £500,000.

The move was not greeted kindly by fans of the Highbury side with no team wanting their best players to leave. It is said that Brady left as Arsenal were not challenging for enough domestic titles.

Despite the slightly contentious ending, Brady is fondly remembered as an Arsenal player. His ability to create space where there was none and his deft passes and goals made him a firm fans favourite.

Some of his most beautiful goals came against bitter North London rivals, Spurs.

On occasion all you could do was stop and just look at that!

Even when he had left Arsenal he was still tormenting the Spurs defence. Long time Arsenal fan Raddy remembers fondly the Ossie Ardiles Testimonial played at White Hart Lane in the 1985-1986 season when an Inter Milan team featuring Brady took on Spurs.

Spurs started with a midfield of Ardiles, Maradona, Hoddle and Waddle but a number of Arsenal fans went with only one player in mind:

"It was a sell out of course, and I have to say that Hoddle and Maradona set up the best goal I have seen in my life — the ball never touched the ground from a throw out from the keeper until it hit the back of the Inter net … magic.

 

Needless to say, the morons booed everytime Liam got the ball. But midway through the second half he picked up the ball on the left wing, cut inside and smacked a screamer past the hapless Spurs keeper — Pat Jennings.

 

Then thousands of Gooners who had gone just to watch Liam went mental, and Liam celebrated as though he had scored the winner in the CL final.

 

It is still my favourite memory of him — even when he wasn’t playing for us it gave him the greatest pleasure to stuff it up the Spuds."

Between 1973-1980, Liam Brady played 235 times for Arsenal, scoring 43 goals and setting up many more.

He was recently voted Arsenal's eighth greatest player by Arsenal fans on Arsenal.com.

Brady Life After Arsenal

He would move to Italy for five years before returning to England to see out his playing career with West Ham United.

From 1980-1982, Brady enjoyed a relatively successful time in Turin where he won two Serie A titles while scoring 15 goals in 76 games for Bianconeri. Despite his good form in 1982, Chippy was sold to Sampordia by then manager Giovanni Trapattoni to make way for the arrival of Michel Platini. It was not the last time Brady and Trapattoni would cross paths.

From Sampordia, the Irishman played for Inter Milan and Ascoli respectively before ending his playing career with West Ham. Liam Brady last graced a football field in 1990.

Brady The Irish International

Liam Brady's Irish career never quite reached the heights of his club career.

Between 1974-1990, Brady played for the Republic of Ireland 72 times scoring on 9 occasions.

Brady became another world class player that would never get to grace the international stage in a major competition. He missed Ireland's first ever European Championship in 1988 through a mixture of suspension and injury.

During qualification for Italia 90 Brady retired from the international game. Once Ireland qualified he un-retired himself however manager Jack Charlton decided that those who'd played in the qualifiers deserved to go to Italy.

Liam Brady was left to watch Ireland's march to the quarter finals from the stands.

Brady The Manager

Sadly this will be quite a short section.

The success Brady had on the pitch with Arsenal and Juventus amongst others was never transferred over to his time as a first team manager with the Irishman enjoying unsuccessful periods with Brighton & Hove Albion and Glasgow giants Celtic.

Chippy's stint at club management from 1991-1995 was overshadowed in both cases by financial problems at both clubs.

Brady — The Media Man

In recent years, Liam Brady became better known in Ireland as one member of Bill O'Herlihy and his three amigos pundit panel on Irish television channel RTE.

Joining former players Johnny Giles and Eamon Dunphy, the three were renowned for not pulling any punches and on many occasions things got extremely heated in the studio.

Regardless of whether it was the Republic of Ireland, England, Liverpool or Real Madrid playing, the panel never held back and said it as they saw it.

The most famous episode regarding Brady came only last year as his time as a pundit was coming to an end.

Following Arsenal's loss to Liverpool in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, events got quite heated in the studio between Brady and Dunphy as O'Herlihy and Souness tried to act as mediators.

All the aggrevation was caused by the ever controversial Eamon Dunphy comparing Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to Fawlty Towers' actor John Cleese.

Brady was deeply angered by what he saw as cheap journalism and a cheap shot at the Frenchman and stated he would not have appeared had he known that sequence of clips was "in the can" to which Dunphy retorted the now immortal line "you jumped over the fence baby" clearly suggesting that Brady had left club ties get in the way of objectivity.

Over the following weeks Dunphy seemed to back down on his stance on Wenger, even suggesting at one stage that Arsenal were cheated out of a penalty at the Emirates as the referee was Dutch and that is why he did not punish Kuyt's rugby tackle on Hleb.

In 2008 Liam Brady had to step down from the RTE Panel as he took up his role as the Rep.Ireland's assistant manager.

Brady Where is he now?

Following his unsuccessful stints as manager of Brighton and Celtic, Brady returned to his first love in North London to oversee the new Arsenal Academy.

In July 1996, he became the Head of Youth Development and Academy Director and has remained there ever since. Under Brady, Arsenal's youth sides have won the FA Premier Youth League in 1997-98, the FA Premier Academy League U17 title in 2001-'02, the FA Youth Cup in 1999-'00 and 2000-'01 and the FA Premier Academy League U19 title in 2001-'02.

In 2007, Liam Brady became heavily linked with the Irish managerial job following the disappointing reign of former player Steven Staunton.

The vacant seat was instead taken by Italian legend Giovanni Trapattonithe man who had sold Brady whilst at Juventuswith Brady becoming his assistant alongside Marco Tardelli.

Arsene Wenger gave the Irishman permission to take up his role with the Irish squad as long as it did not impact on his role at Arsenal.

Thus Liam Brady's career has gone full circle. He is back at the club where it all started for him, working with the Italian manager who bought and sold him at Juventus while doing a service for his country.

For Liam "Chippy" Brady, it seems its always going to be Cannons and Shamrocks.

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