Monday, 12 December 2011

Kevin Moran

No hablo Espanol

1988 - 1989 : Sporting Gijón (Spain)

Kevin Bernard Moran was a talented sports-man, and played at the top level in two codes. First, in Gaelic Football, in which he played for Dublin GAA, winning three Leinster titles and two All-Ireland medals. He was a GAA 1976 All-Star member and arguably one of the most promising footballers in the mid-1970s.

He choose however, to choose the potentially more lucrative career by switching to soccer and signing for Manchester United  in 1978 at the age of 21. Moran would go on to play over 230 games for the Red Devils and become a key member of their FA Cup winning sides of 1983 and 1985. He would represent Ireland 71 times and feature prominently for them at Euro 1988, World Cup 1990 and World Cup 1994. Indeed, Kevin Moran is one of the best Irish players of the past 30 years.

In 1986, Manchester United hired Alex Ferguson as their new manager. This heralded the beginning of major changes at Old Trafford, not least the signing of Steve Bruce a year later. Bruce's arrival in Manchester spelled the end of Moran's time there, and he left United shortly after the European Championships in 1988. 

He signed for Spanish side Sporting Gijón, becoming part of a strong defence at El Molinón, featuring Spanish internationals Abelardo and Manuel Jiménez. His first match was an impressive 4-1 away win over Athletic Bilbao. That year he played a total of 27 games for the club, but his performances often came under criticismGijón finished the season in 13th place, four places lower than the year before. During the season Moran shared a flat with future Real Madrid, Barcelona and Spain star Luis Enrique.

The next year, Moran played just 6 games with Gijón. A poor start to the season saw them loose two of their first three matches, and they picked up just one point in over a month. New coach Carlos Garcia Cuervo began to favour 19 year old Abelardo at the back, and Moran was consigned to the bench. Anyway, Moran wasn't settled and didn't enjoy a very close relationship with his comrades. In one December 1988 incident, Moran was the only player who did not participate in Manuel Jiminez's annual cub charity lottery, seemingly because he wasn't interested. 

In October, Moran moved to Second Division English outfit Blackburn Rovers, who so far had endured a 27 year absence from top-flight football. Moran, already 34, was regarded as having the sort of experience that might help Blackburn finally reach the top-flight again. His first season was disappointing though, and they finished 19th. However, the next year they were promoted and finished the next two seasons in the top three. Moran retired at the end of the 1993-94 season, aged 38. The very next season, Blackburn would win the Premier League.

Today, Moran is occasionally seen on television, working as a pundit for TV3 Sport. He also runs his own sports agency, and counts Steve Finnan, Wayne Rooney and John O'Shea as his clients. Kevin Moran was one of the best Irish players, perhaps of all time. But in Spain, he is remembered as yet another British-Irish player who just couldn't settle. He has been criticised for not trying hard enough to adapt to life in Spain, not learning Spanish and barely interacting with his team-mates. Perhaps this should serve as a warning to any Irish players considering a move abroad. Playing football is not enough, if you want to be a success, if you want to win things, then, like Liam Brady and Mickey Walsh, you have to learn the lingo. 

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