Allardyce was my man – and now he’s England’s boss, says priest
The Irish priest who began Sam Allardyce’s managerial career said he has been praying for the new England coach.
Fr Joe Young, who was the chairman of Limerick FC at the time, offered the man universally known as ‘Big Sam’ his first managerial role at the age of 36, as player-manager for the club in the 1991/92 season.
The club had been relegated for the first time in the 1990/91 season but Fr Young’s decision to take a chance on the fledgling manager paid off as Allardyce guided the team to promotion straight back into the top flight of the League of Ireland at the first attempt.
Fr Young, a West Bromwich Albion FC fan, was studying managerial recommendations when he came across Allardyce and recognised him as the former defender and coach of West Brom.
“I said to him: ‘Sam, my name is Fr Joe Young, I am an Irish priest and the chairman of Limerick – and I am hoping you will be manager of our football club,” said Fr Young. “He thought I was [former footballer and manager] Peter Reid playing a trick on him!”
The priest admitted that he had been praying and saying Mass for his former manager in the lead up to his appointment
“I’m absolutely delighted. It’s a great moment in my priesthood,” Fr Young told BBC Radio 5 Live. “All I can say to you is one thing. He believed in the Field of Dreams. He was a purpose-driven manager. I never experienced so much joy in the fact that he believed if you don’t bring them through with discipline, forget about it. He was brilliant and a maestro.”
Fr Vladimir Felzmann, the Chaplain for Sport and CEO for the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, praised both Allardyce, as well as the priest behind his successful journey. “Behind every truly big man is a great story, Sam Allardyce is no exception,” Fr Felzmann told The Universe.
Fr Felzmann recalled Fr Young’s role as chairman of Limerick FC, as well as his firm belief in the benefits of sport for young people. “Fr Joe attracted Big Sam to his club’s shabby pitch, they shared a vision,” said Fr Felzmann.
“They both believed in discipline and self-control in sport as in life with all four PIES: the Physical, Intellectual, Emotional as well as Spiritual dimensions, which, when honed in harmony – as John Paul II Foundation for Sport strives to do around the world – can shape delightful lives not only on the pitch but throughout a player’s life.”
Fr Felzmann said he hoped that Allardyce would be able to recreate the success he saw at Limerick FC in his latest managerial role with the England national team.
“As Fr Joe, so I too pray, that Sam can – as he did with Limerick – work his magic on all of those PIES; turning England’s football talents into a real – and thus successful – top flight team.”Tags: chaplain, Engand manager, football, Football Association, Fr Joe Young, Fr Vladimir Felzmann, John Paul II Foundation for Sport, Limerick FC, Sam Allardyce