Paddy Mulligan: "You knew you were being followed on occasions by Special Branch"

Ex-Ireland, Chelsea and Palace full-back tells Team 33 about life as an Irishman in England during The Troubles

Paddy Mulligan, Chelsea

Picture by: Henry Browne / EMPICS Sport

What was it like for Irish footballers playing in England at the height of The Troubles in the 1970s?

We got an insight into the difficulties on this week's Team 33 as ex-Republic of Ireland, Crystal Palace and Chelsea full-back Paddy Mulligan joined Joe, Derek and myself for a wide-ranging chat that took in Ireland's tours to South America in 1972 and 1974, how football has changed in the past 40 years, training the Dublin-based Galway Gaelic footballers in the late-80s and how the English international side perceived itself at that time.

But Paddy also shared a few stories about the experience of being an Irishman in England when violence reigned in Northern Ireland and The Troubles had an effect across the Irish Sea.

Paddy Mulligan (centre) with (l to r) Team 33's Raf Diallo, Joe Coffey and Derek Ryan

Paddy told us there was never any problems with English team-mates in that regard or fans - with the exception of Millwall which was "par for the course and it was open season there for whoever" - although there were other issues with the security services.

"For me, living in London at the time, I'd walk down any street in London and as soon as you'd open your mouth and speak, you'd see you're getting looks," he told us, before talking about the experience in UK airports.

"You knew you were being followed on occasions by maybe Special Branch. You'd be flying back and you'd be held up at the airport, let's say Birmingham for arguments sake, for maybe two hours and they'd be talking about the match to you."

Listen to the full in-depth interview on the podcast player or download on iTunes: