THE Irishman Abroad, a new RTÉ documentary about the life and career of Liam Brady, the former Arsenal, Juventus and Ireland player reveals he was beaten up by a gang in London in the wake of the 1974 Birmingham bombings.
Brady, who was playing for Arsenal at the time, said that the incident happened when he stood up to a gang who were harassing his girlfriend.
“I was on the tube one night and these guys were getting a bit forward with the girl I was with. I told them to stop and they recognised my Irish accent. They turned out to be from Birmingham and I became the subject of their temper over what had happened. Nobody helped me, but I managed to play on the Saturday. It wasn’t too bad a beating.”
The documentary evokes the sometimes hostile attitude in England towards the Irish population in Britain during the worst of the Troubles, particularly with reference to the IRA bombing campaign in Britain.
“It was a bad time, so much happening in Northern Ireland,” says Brady in the documentary. “The thing that struck me was that the English people didn’t really understand what was happening in Northern Ireland, didn’t understand the politics their government had put in place. They [the government] didn’t understand it, either.’’
The documentary also focuses on the schism between Brady and Jack Charlton, which saw Brady becoming the finest Irish footballer never to take part in a major tournament.
The Irishman Abroad is broadcast on RTÉ on February 13