"He was very important to me" - Brian O'Driscoll pays a personal tribute to Anthony Foley

He speaks of how supportive the Munster legend was during their time together for Ireland

BY Raf Diallo 19:46 Monday 17 October 2016, 19:46 17 Oct 2016

Brian O'Driscoll is congratulated by Anthony Foley after scoring one of his three tries in Paris in 2000 ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Brian O'Driscoll has highlighted Anthony Foley's importance as a friend and team-mate as he paid tribute to the Munster head coach.

Off The Ball's premier rugby correspondent and former Ireland captain spoke movingly about Foley, who sadly passed away in Paris at the age of 42.

Foley and O'Driscoll were long-time team-mates for Ireland from the late '90s until the Killaloe man's last international in 2005. Speaking on Off The Ball, Brian explained what the Munster legend meant to him. 

"It's appallingly sad," he said of Foley's untimely passing.

"We played an awful lot of games [together]. He was very important to me.

"He was part of that three tries in Paris [against France in March 2000] and our victory over there. We had some really big and important days in the same jersey. 

Brian O'Driscoll alongside then Ireland assistant coach Anthony Foley in 2013©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

"And then he became very important to me from a captaincy point of view. I was given the captaincy, probably in place of him, when [Keith] Wood was injured prior to the World Cup in 2003 and I was chosen by Eddie [O'Sullivan].

"He could have thrown the toys out of the cot, but he did anything but. He became a very important leader within the team, helping me along. I think that early relationship really benefited me in that we did have a mutual respect. There were no frills to Axel. He was very up front. He wasn't a sugarcoater. I like people that aren't sugarcoaters."

He described him as a unique person with whom he shared a great relationship, and praised Foley's reading of the game as a player who had "an ability to see ahead of time how the game was going to unfold".

"It's just unthinkable that one of the real rugby greats is no more," he said.

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