Derby County Assistant Manager reminisces over former team-mate and United star Paul McGrath.
Derby County’s PR team have been in full-flow recently with a number of backroom and management staff par-taking in a ‘pub crawl’, where they’re visiting various places around Derbyshire in order to get to know the fans better.
Assistant manager Paul Simpson has been a vocally the main person at these ‘conferences’ and has endured all different types of questions from various fans.
In the latest instalment at The Exeter Arms Paul Simpson was asked the usual questions about money being available, who they’re looking to keep on and sell and their view on the playing side so far. However on Monday, the former Derby County winger was reminiscing about his previous playing days at the club, and when asked about if there was any player he could sign from his playing days now, he was quite sharp and passionate with his answer.
‘’If I could sign any player from the past it would be Paul McGrath
‘’Although we probably couldn’t afford his bar bill’’
He went on to say that he would love to sign a player of:
‘’Wanchope’s individuality, Eranio’s professionalism, Stimac’s influence and McGrath’s ability
‘’mould them into one player, but that might be a bit out of our price range’’
The Manchester United centre back is widely considered as one of the most naturally gifted defenders ever to play the game, the number of people that have been left in awe of his ability and commented on it is extra-ordinary
Some of the best quotes on the player:
‘’He was an exceptionally skilful and styling defender, with marvellous innate athleticism, a man whose abilities stood comparison with any central defender in the game’’ – Sir Alex Ferguson
‘’Paul was probably the best player I have ever played with… He made it all look so bloody easy’’ – Mick McCarthy
"Big Paul McGrath showed all the qualities demanded of us for half an hour in Giants Stadium that day. For him the word big is appropriate. Known for his poise, his ability on the ball, his unique gift for reading the game, Paul displayed these qualities on this day. One other huge asset was his courage. When the Italians did get sight of the goal, Paul presented a final, insurmountable obstacle. Paul inspired us as much as in the end he demoralised Roberto Baggio and the other Italian players " - Roy Keane on Ireland’s famous 1-0 win over Italy.
‘’ " 'C'mon, let me take you for a little jog, then see how it feels.' and Paul's saying, 'No Jim, my knee's too sore today' But I'm pushing. 'C'mon Paul, let's go out and try ...' I encouraged him, rightly or wrongly. And he ended up playing. 'Best player on the pitch as usual.' " - Aston Villa Physio Jim Walker
"Paul had this really nonchalant way of defending. He could just sally through a game. A ball would come into the box and he'd just back-heel it to safety ... I dithered over whether I should play him or not, because Rush and Dalglish were a handful. I just wasn't sure that he was ready for them. I played him in the end and he was magnificent. Honestly, he just walked through the game. Never gave Rush a kick. And of course, Ian Rush never would score against United while McGrath was playing. We actually gave Liverpool a bit of a doing that day, came back from 1-3 down to draw 3-3. I know it doesn't sound great defensively, but McGrath was superb. It told you a lot about him.’’ – Sir Alex Ferguson on McGrath after returning from a serious injury
‘’Class personified and a wonderful athlete. You could see he was going to be a big star’’ – Eoin Hand
‘’You have to wonder what a player Paul McGrath should have been’’ – Alex Ferguson after a 37-year-old McGrath had been named man-of-the-match for Derby County against Manchester United.
‘’Like Bobby Moore, Paul McGrath played football as though he was wearing a silk smoking jacket with a crystal glass in his hand’’
Often remarked as the play loved by all, but himself – it’s nice to see his legacy still living on in football.
image: © eamoncurry