Soccer

"Dire mess" - Gary Breen laments Coventry's descent

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

03:51 7 Aug 2019


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Gary Breen represented 10 clubs during his 20-year career but it's Coventry City where he spent his longest spell.

The former Ireland defender was there during their final years in the Premier League. His first four years were plied in the top flight before he chose to stay loyal to the club in their first season in the second tier in 2001-02.

They haven't returned to the Premier League since while Breen went on to join West Ham after the 2002 World Cup.


The 45-year-old touched on his Coventry era and their more recent fortunes (or misfortunes to be more precise) which has seen them tumble down the divisions.

"Coventry are just in a dire mess. They're not even got a stadium to call their own," he told me on this week's Team 33.

You can listen to the interview on this week's Premier League preview podcast:

"Dire mess" - Gary Breen laments Coventry's descent

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

This season, the Sky Blues have had to ground-share with Birmingham City at St Andrews, continuing a trend of stadium instability since initially moving to the Ricoh Arena in 2005 after more than a century at the old Highfield Road. The latter was the ground Breen came to cherish.

Worst Decision

"It was a great stadium, it really was. An old-fashioned stadium but the supporters were right on top of you," he recalled.

Gary Breen, Coventry, Premier Sports Premier Sport Unveil New Broadcast Team For 2019/2020 Premier League Season, Dublin 6/8/2018
Premier Sports today unveiled a new, fresh and exciting broadcast team for its coverage of the 2019/2020 Premier League Season featuring analysts Richard Dunne and Kenny Cunningham, host Eoin McDevitt and commentators Des Curran, Gary Breen and Clive Tyldesley
Pictured today is Gary Breen ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

"It was a great atmosphere. I think even the bigger clubs loved coming there to play. And I remember when I initially signed there at about 21-22, the chairman then was talking about this brand-new stadium. I was there six years nearly and there was no sign of it. Then suddenly they ended up chasing and chasing it to get there. And it's just the worst decision they could possibly have made."

Mart Poom

On a happier note, Breen shared fond memories of his old Sunderland room-mate Mart Poom. The former Estonia goalkeeper spoke to Ronan Mullen and I on Team 33 late last year and had name-checked Breen.

"A great guy and I bet he's still in great shape! He was obsessed in terms of keeping his physique," said Breen.

Mart Poom, Sunderland, Gary Breen Sunderland's goalkeeper Mart Poom claims the ball under pressure from Sheffield United's Wayne Allison with Gary Breen in the background

"At one stage, Sunderland managers had to ban him from being in the gym - he was that dedicated! But he was a great goalkeeper and a great lad as well and a good room-mate."

Gary Breen was speaking to Team 33 as Premier Sports unveiled a new, fresh and exciting broadcast team for its coverage of the 2019/2020 Premier League Season featuring analysts Richard Dunne and Kenny Cunningham, host Eoin McDevitt and commentators Des Curran, Breen and Clive Tyldesley.

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Coventry Gary Breen Mart Poom Premier League Sunderland Team 33

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