FORMER France international manager, Raymond Domenech has revealed he would be interested coaching Ireland should the possibility arise in the future.
The man who guided Les Bleus to the 2006 World Cup Final and oversaw France’s controversial 2010 World Cup play-off victory over Ireland, arrived in Derry yesterday and took Derry City’s U19 and U17s through a training session at Brandywell Stadium.
The 66 year-old is on a three-day visit to the city in his role as President of the National Union of French Coaches (UNECATEF), facilitated by ex-Derry City defender, Pascal Vaudequin and hosted by the Ryan McBride Foundation.
Domenech admitted he came close to being appointed Ireland manager in 2003 when he was on a three-man shortlist before the FAI handed the job to Brian Kerr.
And while the French man expects current boss, Martin O’Neill to be in the hotseat for quite some time yet, he admits the Irish national team is a job which still appeals to him.
“I have a long past with the Irish national team,” explained Domenech who arrived at the Everglades Hotel yesterday. “I always said if I had the possibility one day to train the national team I would.
I was very interested then and I’m still interested because I like the spirit of Irish.Raymond Domenech
“I was contacted before I took the French national team job by the Irish Federation and they chose Brian Kerr which was a good choice.
“I was very interested then and I’m still interested because I like the spirit of Irish. I remember when we won in Ireland in 2005 after the game I had to go to the media and it was near the stands. I had to cross in front of all the spectators. In France they would never do that because you never know what would happen.
“But the Irish were all shaking my hand. They had respect and they are fighters so I like the spirit. I saw that in Paris some years after. But I like that.
“Martin O’Neill is a great manager and I’m sure he will be there for a long time. Everything in the past is finished but I still appreciate the spirit of this country.”
And when quizzed about the infamous Thierry Henry handball which denied Ireland a place at the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa, Domenech recalled how his team was vilified by the French press ahead of a disastrous campaign which ended at the group stages.
“I joked after that and said it would have been better had the Irish qualified,” smiled Domenech. “But it’s finished for me. I wrote a book about what happened, my vision, not the vision of journalists. I explained what happened with Henry in 2009.
“I remember the Irish won a game in Dublin against Georgia with a penalty. In Ireland everyone was happy as they were playing France and could still qualify.
“In France after the Thierry Henry handball it was a catastrophe. All the journalists were the team. The problem came first with our journalists.
“This team was very special. We were able to be champions and we were also able to do what we did. It was a crazy situation and we can’t really explain what happened or why.
“Laurent Blanc had signed as the next manager which was also a catastrophe during our preparation. The players knew they would have a new coach in one month. How do you work in these conditions?”
As President of the UNECATEF, Domenech has led a group of unemployed French coaches to the city where they will take sessions with St Columb’s College and St Joseph’s Year 10s, Derry City’s U15s, U17s and U19s, the Derry Colts and a couple of local junior clubs. Their goal is to improve their English and gain rebuild confidence.