Former Republic of Ireland manager John Giles paid tribute to former Ireland international and Manchester United manager Frank O’Farrell, describing the Corkman as one of his heroes growing up.
O’Farrell passed away earlier this week at the age of 94 and remains the only Irishman ever to manage Manchester United.
Giles played against the nine-time Irish international in a reserve game whilst Giles was trying to break into the United first team.
Speaking on Off The Ball on Thursday evening Giles said, “I was a young fellow playing in the Central League team, for Manchester United which was then the reserve team.”
“We played Preston reserves and Frank O’Farrell was finishing his career at that time. He was one of my idols, he was a terrific player.”
Before embarking on a distinguished managerial career, O’Farrell gave his own piece of advice to a young Johnny Giles.
“He was a gentleman, in fact on the pitch that night, I swore at somebody. When the whistle blew, he called me over and gave me a telling off, he said there was no need to be using language like that.”
“I said I’m sorry Mr. O’Farrell. It was what you normally would say on the pitch but I think he was supposed to be a strict type of man. He was a good man, a really good man,” said Giles.
As the current day Manchester United continue to flounder after a previous long-term manager retired, O’Farrell fell victim to post Matt Busby mismanagement.
“When Sir Matt decided to finish up, he picked Wilf McGuinness. So Wilf had the first spell at Old Trafford as the manager which didn’t work out very well.”
“Frank O’Farrell came in after Wilf McGuinness.”
"There's no need to be using that type of language."
🗣️ "Sorry Mr. Farrell." 😅
John Giles remembers Frank O'Farrell, who sadly passed away last Friday, as a very respected man.
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“Frank’s version of the time was that he was annoyed that Sir Matt (Busby) didn’t let go of the reins. He was still very influential. When he retired he didn’t get out of the place he was always still there. I know Frank O’Farrell wasn’t too happy about the situation.”
“Frank wouldn’t have agreed to (the Busby influence). I think it happened but he wouldn't have agreed to that.”
“He did a very good job at Leicester City. It wouldn't have been a deal that Matt Busby would step down. Frank O’Farrell was surprised that Sir Matt still had some sort of influence at the club.”
In an era when football did not feature on television, the influence of O’Farrell was admired by Giles.
“I saw a lot of him playing in the international team, but I wouldn't have seen him in the English league or when he was in the first division. You couldn't see most of your heroes but I knew Frank.”
O'Farrell managed Cardiff City briefly before leaving to embark on a new adventure. He took charge of Iran, taking them to the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
Giles was enamoured by O’Farrell, “I would have loved to have played with Frank O’Farrell, he was one of my heroes growing up.”
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