Liam Brady- the midfielder who left too early after guiding Arsenal to four Cup finals
In 1956 Arsenal’s beloved midfielder Liam Brady who assisted the Gunners to victory in the 1979 FA Cup was born in Dublin.
Brady started his playing days at Arsenal, packing his case for London to join the team on schoolboy terms in 1971 whilst only 15. Within two years he received perhaps the biggest present of his life, on his 17th Birthday he signed a professional contract at Arsenal, he would then go on to make his debut in 1973 versus Birmingham City with pant wetting excitement jumping off the bench for Jeff Blockley to put in a top display.
He struggled to replicate his form in his next game against Tottenham Hotspur in the North London Derby when all eyes were on the youngster, which led to manager Bertie Mee not making the most of him for the rest of the season. Brady completed the 1973/74 season having made 13 appearances coming on as substitute on four occasions. During his twilight years at Arsenal Brady was nicknamed “Chippy” by the fans due to his love for fish and chips hysterically.
During the 1974/75 season Brady cemented his place in the first team and stood out for the first time when Arsenal was fighting relegation. After the hiring of Terry Neil and Don Howe as coach, Brady discovered his flare. His passing supplied great firing opportunities for Arsenal’s main goalscoring machines for instance Malcolm Macdonald and Frank Stapleton, witnessing The Gunners appear in three FA Cup finals from 1978-1980. However Arsenal only found victory in one of those finals being in 1979, witnessing Brady provide Alan Sunderland with the manoeuvre which saw him win Arsenal the FA Cup 3-2 over Manchester United in the final minute of the game.
By this moment in his career Brady had generated his best Arsenal form which was highlighted in one of his most infamous strikes, after losing Peter Taylor he sent a curler of a shot from the outskirts of the edge of the penalty box into the top bins. This feat occired during a 5-0 demolition against arch rivals Tottenham in 1978. This period in his career witnessed Brady praised for Arsenal’s players of the year for three consecutive seasons. He was also selected for the PFA Players Player of the Year in 1979, as an Irishmen Brady became the first ever foreigner to secure the accolade. Brady was in command of a side that were gunning for glory mounting challenges on the First Division, however there was great speculation that Brady would depart Arsenal for a new challenge to tackle.
During the 1979/80 campaign The Gunners launched their way to the Cup Winners Cup final which Arsenal lost on penalties to Valencia, after having knocked aside Juventus in the semi-finals. This saw him catch the attention of the Italian Old Lady after putting up an impressive display. Towards the final stages of the 1980 season they came flying in for Brady, taking him back to Italy in a deal worth £500,000 becoming the first foreign footballer to transfer to the side after the Italian boarder was re-launched for foreign deals in 1980.
Brady’s days at Arsenal saw him feature in 307 games grabbing 59 goals creating even more selflessly for his teammates.
He would spend two years at Juventus with the iconic number 10 shirt and securing two titles in 1981 and 1982. Brady ensured Juventus secured the 1981/82 title after netting the penalty in a 1-0 victory over Catanzaro. After Michael Platini was signed later that year Brady switched to another Italian side Sampdoria where he retained the number 10 shirt forming an attacking alliance with Trevor Francis. In 1984 Brady experienced even more of the country after transferring to Inter Milan which he would stay at till 1986 where he failed to achieve any silverware. In the summer of 1986 Brady joined Ascoli where his time in Italy ended in emotional turmoil falling out with the club after having disputes about not being paid with the side’s president Costantino Rozzi which finished off his career abroad.
After having just started life in his 30s he flew back to England in mid 1987 to play for West Ham United after signing for £100,000 which witnessed him net 10 goals in 119 appearances. He was also included in the team which were relegated from the top-flight of English Football in 1989. After enduring the 1989/90 campaign in the Second Division with The Hammers he hung up his boots for good, following scoring in final match for the club.
Throughout his playing career Brady was called up 72 times for Republic of Ireland from 1974 to 1990 notching up nine goals.
In 1990 Brady went into management taking over the reins at Celtic from 1991-1993 before Brighton and Hove Albion between 1993 and 1995. A bitter time in management saw Brady struggle to achieve any real success with either side.
Come 1996 he returned to Highbury adapting to new role of Arsenals Youth and Development Academy Director. His youth team triumphed winning the 1998 FA Premier Youth League, the FA Premier Academy League u17 championship in 2000 and the FA Premier Academy league u19 title up until 2002. Under his command The Gunners also won the 2009 and 2010 FA Premier Academy League u18 championship, alongside the FA Youth Cup in 2000, 2001 and 2009.
January 2013 saw Arsenal declare Brady would retire from his role as Director of The Gunners Youth Academy in 2014.
Brady also experienced a career on TV popping up as a pundit for the BBC during the 1990 and 1994 World Cups before switching to RTE Sport for the 1998 competition. He stayed with the media company for the 2018 World Cup, UEFA Euro 2020 and 2022 World Cup.
Last year Brady stated that he would finish up his punditry work with RTE Sport after a quarter of a century.
At the age of 67 Brady is still adored by all Arsenal fans for being a great passer of the ball with an even greater vision which led to many crucial goals in the clubs history across all competitions.
A true Arsenal legend….
STOP CELEBRATING! Here is the latest DUBLIN ARSENAL podcast with our Irish friends EAMONN And JONATHON special guest Liam from @inthenorthbank on our fantastic win over Liverpool and a preview of West Ham….
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