- Home Page
- Other Sports
- Balls of Fame
- Tip Us Off
Packie Bonner Talks To Balls About Movember, Ireland And The Difficulties Of Having A Strange Shaped Head
To kick off Movember, Balls.ie chatted with official ambassador Packie Bonner about moustaches, Packie’s strange shaped head, the Irish team and their chances of qualifying for the World Cup and also his disappointment of the omission of Seamus Coleman from the Euro 2012 squad.
Balls: Hi, Packie, thanks for chatting with me today.
Packie: No problem at all.
Balls: So tomorrow is the first of November which means just one thing, Movember time. I see you’re getting involved this year?
Packie: Yeah, I put my name forward for that this year, it’s a great cause and I’m delighted to be involved.
Balls: So what type of Mo are you planning for the month?
Packie: Haha well that’s the big question isn’t it! I was getting my hair cut today and sought professional advice from the barber. I have a strange shaped face you see, so we’ll have to wait and see what they can come up with for me.
Balls: We look forward to seeing what you muster up! The Irish squad for the upcoming Greece friendly has just been announced. What did you make of it?
Packie: Well the first thing is, it’s great to see the younger players getting a shot. Listen, this is what these friendlies are for. We need to blood these young guys and see what they’ve got. The experience that they will gain from it will be priceless. That’s what Jack (Charlton) used to do as well. Its all about bringing them in and getting them ready for the bigger occasions. I’m really glad Wes has been brought in. He’s been around a long time and plenty of people have been hoping he would be given his chance. It’ll be interesting to see if he can fit into the system that’s in place now. Conor Clifford is someone who I like. He’s got bags of ability and I’m sure he can show that if he gets on the pitch.
Balls: Yeah, I think the whole nation breathed a sigh of relief when they heard Hoolahan was included. About time many would say.
Packie: I can’t argue with that.
Balls: The decision to keep Trapattoni in the job was something which obviously divided opinions up and down the country. Where did you stand on that?
Packie: Listen, if a manager has a contract, he’s entitled to see it out. We have played three World Cup qualifiers and have six points from a possible nine. For me there was only one decision that could have been made. He got us to the Euros and we shouldn’t be looking to jump ship 4 months later during a World Cup qualifying campaign.
Balls: So do you think we can still qualify for the World Cup?
Packie: I’m sure Trap thinks we can. We all hope we can. The Swedish result against Germany didn’t go in our favour but it’s still all to play for. We won’t get first place, I think the Germans will take that. Second place is wide open though so hopefully we can take that and get through the play offs. Again it’s important to remember that under Trap we have won two out three games and have only lost one which was to one of the favourites for the World Cup, that’s key. You can’t really sack a manger based on what you think might happen. The last campaign obviously didn’t go the way we would have hoped but the argument is there that the manager’s ultimate goal was to qualify for Euro 2012 and ultimately he achieved that.
Balls: I think most people’s major issue was that more younger players weren’t brought in.
Packie: Well it’s a tricky one. When do you develop the team? You only get three or four friendly games to blood new guys but you also have to prepare a side for the qualifiers. It’s a difficult situation for a manager. I was bitterly disappointed not to see Seamus Coleman in the squad for the the Euros. I think he is a fantastic player and is someone who will be an Irish regular for many years to come.
Balls: True. I think most Irish fans feel the same way about Coleman. Why do you think Trap didn’t give the other squad players a go in the Italy game at Euro 2012? We had nothing to play for and nothing to lose. It surely wouldn’t have hurt to have given the other players a run in a major tournament.
Packie: I agree. I don’t know why other guys weren’t given a run. The only thing I can imagine that went through Trap’s mind was that he wanted to give the lads who were retiring their final farewell. I think they deserved that for their service to Ireland so in that sense you can kind of see his thinking. Ireland are in a difficult phase at the moment. Usually the rebuilding stage of a side begins after a World Cup and heading into the Euros. We have it back to front unfortunately but there is no doubting that the World Cup is where everyone wants to be. If Trap leads us there, then I’m sure the FAI’s decision will be fully vindicated.
Balls: We have seen today how Wes Hoolahan has been included in the squad after Trapattoni travelled to see him in action two weeks ago when Norwich defeated Arsenal. Do you think that if Trap had done this four years ago, we perhaps might have a younger Irish team right now?
Packie: No, no not at all. The young players have always been brought into squads. Maybe not as many as we would have liked or has frequently as some would have preferred but youth has been given its chance. Look, the man has been around the block, he’s 73 years old, he knows what it’s all about. Just because you don’t see him at Premiership games week in week out, doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what’s going on. He is fully aware of what is going on around him. He’s got guys like Frank Stapleton and Marco Tardelli around him and they also offer their views on the players on offer. Jack (Charlton) had a very similar mentality.
Balls: Since finishing up with the FAI two years ago, what have you been up to?
Packie: Ah, I’ve been doing bits and pieces with UEFA. I have been doing a goalkeeping diploma at pro level and have been traveling around Europe helping different countries to implement that. I’ve been doing different courses with FIFA as well which has also meant plenty of traveling around the world. I’ve also been doing my usual TV work as well so I’ve been kept plenty busy.
Balls: Is working with the FAI again something you’d like to do or is that a chapter in your life that you’ve closed?
Packie: You never say never in life and the same applies to this. I loved my work with the FAI and I still miss the companionship with the group of lads we had there. But I spent eight years in that role and it was really a 24/7 thing so now that I’m not as tied up, I have far more family time which is very important to me. I’m really enjoying that. But if the chance came up to perform a similar role somewhere, it would certainly be something I’d take a look at.
Balls: I can’t let you go Packie without asking you about Celtic’s near miracle last week at the Nou Camp. Were you at the game and what did you think of it?
Packie: No, unfortunately I wasn’t. I was doing a bit of TV work for Sky Sports so I was watching it from a studio. It was a very interesting game. They nearly had the result they wanted but in the end it was a step too far. On paper it looked like a closely fought contest but from a neutral’s point of view, Celtic had only 20% of the ball possession. That in itself tells its own story of how the game went. There is always the burning question of how do you play against Barcelona and I think Celtic gave it a very good shot.
Balls: It was certainly a great advert for the Scottish League. It sometimes doesn’t get the support that it deserves.
Packie: Absolutely. It once again showed that the Scottish teams aren’t push overs and can hack it with the giants of Europe. Celtic definitely showed that they could compete and hold their own. We are lucky in both Ireland and Scotland that our game is professional. This makes a massive difference to small nations. There are plenty of young managers coming through in Scotland. It is the ideal place to work yourself up from the lower leagues. I’m sure we’ll see it getting stronger in the coming years.
Balls: Thanks for taking the time to talk to Balls.ie today Packie. Best of luck with Movember and we look forward to seeing what kind of Mo you come up with!
Packie: Hahaha! I’m sure there will be photos of its progression.
Don’t forget to get involved with Movember, it’s a fantastic cause. Why not sign up to our Mo-Team and help raise funds for men’s health?
Join the Balls.ie MO-vement here: http://ie.movember.com/mospace/3563477