For a small country on the edge of Europe that has had limited success on the global footballing stage (more to follow), Ireland has had quite a substantial influence on football globally and similar to how one can find an Irish pub in most cities around the world, so too can we see an Irish theme on a multitude of football teams and regions across the globe – largely based on the fact that the Irish have a deep history of emigration and relocating overseas during events such as the Great Irish Famine, British Rule and both World Wars I and II.
Closer to home we know that teams such as Celtic, Hibernian and St.Mirren all have Irish roots in terms of their origins, largely based on Irish communities in Scotland as well as a strong Catholic presence which contributed to the founding and development of these teams in their infancy. The Irish roots spread even further than neighbouring Scotland however – a quick trip over to Holland and one would discover that Ajax‘s first ever Manager was Irishman Jack Kirwan, who after successful playing spells at Everton, Tottenham and Chelsea went on to lead the club to the Dutch top flight for the first time in 1911 – his biggest legacy arguably being that upon promotion his side had to change their jersey to prevent a clash with Sparta Rotterdam, and so the famous red & white Ajax strip was born.
Move South and you will again find an Irish connection to football, this time in the North of Spain. U.D. Salamanca were founded by a group of Irish students (see below) all the way back in 1907 and the club went on to contest at Copa Del Rey and La Liga level all the way until the club was dissolved in 2013. Further afield in Chile, one can find the amazingly named O’Higgins Fútbol Club, named after Chilean independence leader Bernardo O’Higgins whose father was born in Sligo, Ireland. Founded in 1955, the club has gone on to play at the top tier of Chilean football winning the Primera Division for the first time in 2014.
Staying in South America, we also see a strong Irish influence across the domestic leagues in Argentina; Boca Juniors earliest days as a football club were shaped by Irishman Paddy McCarthy who coached the team in their first ever game in 1905, a 4-0 win – the rest as we know is history. Another one of the most successful clubs in Argentine history, Vélez Sársfield are named after prominent lawyer and politician Dalmacio Vélez Sársfield whose grandfather originally emigrated to Argentina from Ireland in the middle of the 18th Century. George “Jorgé” Sarsfield is most certainly not the most well known Irishman to rise to prominence in Argentina however; that mantle rests with Admiral William Brown, who after initially emigrating to the United States as a child before finding his way South became one of the country’s biggest war heroes – so much so that there are four Argentine football clubs named after him in the form of Club Almirante Brown, Club Atlético Almirante Brown, Brown Athletic Club and Club Social y Atlético Guillermo Brown.
The Irish Effect ⚽
Fürth things First
What’s all this got to do with the city of Fürth in Germany? Well, technically nothing 🤷♂️. As I was trawling through the annals of both Irish footballers abroad as well as combing through the various playable leagues and teams in Football Manager, a specific football team’s logo and kits caught my eye for obvious reasons:
Randomly, Greuther Fürth who currently play in Bundesliga 2 in Germany have a shamrock embedded in their club badge and needless to say this Irish writer was quite exciteable at first glance in terms of potential #narrative. Unfortunately this excitement was quickly cut short when further research unearthed that the shamrock in the club’s logo is taken from the city of Fürth’s Coat of Arms – the origin of which is unclear but according to Wikipedia “the trefoil probably represents the three powers responsible for Fürth during the Middle Ages as well as being a symbol of the Trinity.”
WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT.
Despite appearing to have a distinct Irish connection both in their badge and their jerseys (writer’s note: source one online asap), it appears there is absolutely no Irish connection to the club whatsoever – therefore it’s time we gave them one:
Normally if you asked me to make something more Irish I would just add whiskey to it – however in this case, the Irish influence comes in the form of our new Chairman Niall Quinn who completes a fictional takeover of the club courtesy of a quick switch in the Football Manager 2020 Editor. You might remember something similar happened back in 2006 when Quinn brokered a deal to take over Sunderland, whereby he became Chairman of the club, hired Roy Keane as Manager and the club brought in a multitude of Irish internationals including the likes of Anthony Stokes, David Connolly, Liam Miller, Paul McShane, Roy O’Donovan, Ian Harte and Andy Reid. While we won’t be restricting ourselves to Irish players only (I’m not completely mad), we will indeed be having a similar Irish influence on the club mainly through player and staff additions, friendly tours and affiliations with Irish clubs, trying to push for as many Irish youth candidates as possible and as is the usual case in my saves, reaching a point where we have an Irish Manager (aka me) in the hotseat at both Greuther Fürth and the Ireland National Team. We will not be making any adjustments to the club’s finances, transfer budget or wage budget therefore we will take over at Greuther Fürth exactly as they are at the start of any FM20 save with the exception of Niall Quinn replacing Fred Hofler as Chairman.
What We Know About Greuther Fürth
Located in the city of Fürth (population 127,748)in the Northern Bavaria region of Germany – you just know they have cracking beer there
Last appeared in the Bundesliga in the 2012/2013 season after winning the 2. Bundesliga the year before, however the club was relegated in their first season back in the top flight and have been playing in the second tier ever since
Current key players include Maximilian Wittek, Paul Seguin, Julian Green, Havard Nielsen and Branimir Hrgota (more on these later)
Closest rivals are FC Nürnberg, with matches between both sides known as the “Frankenderby“
Notable former players include Gerald Asamoah, Jorg Albertz, Ralph Hasenhüttl, Tim Sparv, Tom Trybull, Johannes Geis, Baba Rahman and @FridayNightFM‘s favourite Champ Man legend Nii Lamptey.
The Irish Revolution
Naturally the first place to start is our backroom team – myself and Niall alone aren’t enough to kickstart the Irish revolution, and while a lot of non-playing personnel are initially reluctant to pack up and leave for pastures new in Southern Germany, we managed to bring in an almost full contingent of backroom staff from the Emerald Isle (Kevin Hunt gets a pass considering he is a really good scout and spent 10 years playing in the Irish league).
There you have it – I was going to continue and talk about playing squad, tactics and transfers however we get a phone call from Niall Quinn advising there is an urgent staff meeting at this location:
If we can’t go to the pub in real life then you can be damn sure fictional me will be found at the only Irish bar in our new home town of Fürth – the Irish Cottage Pub.