Ireland legend talks the future for Irish football and Sunderland experiences
Niall Quinn says he would like to see the government encourage external investment into Irish football in the wake of a Euro 2016 campaign which showed how much the Ireland team means to fans.
Quinn did not go to France for the Euros, instead going to his niece's wedding and then to the US, where he soaked in the atmosphere with Boys in Green fans.
"It was a fantastic experience to see what it meant to Irish fans thousands of miles from home and the emotion that was in every one of those Irish bars, starting at 9 o'clock in the morning, it was an experience that I'd never had," he said.
"The experience I had, seeing what it meant to people so far away, it was emotional. It really made me feel great about Irish football. It was just amazing stuff. I came away and I kind of understood a little bit more about how important Irish football is to people, whether it be at home or abroad. I just wish our government would see the same picture and maybe encourage or find some way of getting external investment into our own football pathways," he told Off The Ball, although he feels the route to external investment is currently blocked.
"Can we put a little bit of pressure on government to say 'you had a good look at what football means to this nation' and the feel-good factor from the Euros was just an incredible time."
Quinn also shared an insight about his role as Sunderland chairman, for example during Steve Bruce's time in charge, regarding transfers, dealing with promotion and more.
One example was the signing of Ireland winger James McClean at Sunderland.
"There was a lot of talk about James McClean for instance. Pop Robson came in and it was the first one and he said 'I've seen a kid in Derry and we have to sign him'. So Pop would have been instrumental in that. Steve Bruce was happy to back Pop's judgement and though he didn't do it for Steve, very quickly after Martin O'Neill came, James burst on the scene," he said.
Niall Quinn ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
The former centre-forward also shared his thoughts on Sam Allardyce as England manager and expects the former Bolton, Blackburn and Sunderland boss to thrive in his new role.
But he has only one slight concern for Big Sam.
"One part of his weaponry which won't be so useful to him anymore is the way he used to be able to get players fit over a period of time," he said, while also reacting to David Moyes' appointment.
Quinn also shared his concerns over player agents and the fees paid to them in particular.
"I know there'll never be a wage cap for players but surely to God, there should be a fee cap for agents because think how many season tickets that is. It's almost vulgar in some respects to see an agent get £20 million. I'd hate to be writing the cheque and say I was the one - okay I brought Pogba to Man United but I'd hate to be giving his agent £20 million for allowing the deal to go through," he said.
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