Thursday, 29 November 2012

Paddy Mulligan

1967 : Boston Rovers (U.S.A.)
1968 : Boston Beacons (U.S.A.)
1980 - 82 : Panathinaikos (Greece)

Patrick Martin Mulligan was born in Dublin in 1945. A right-back, he earned 50 caps for Ireland and was a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup medalist with Chelsea in 1971. 

He began as a schoolboy with Bohemians in Dublin, but moved across the city to rivals Shamrock Rovers when he was 18. In six years with Rovers he won 4 FAI Cups, 1 Top Four Cup, a Dublin City Cup and a Leinster Senior Cup. It was during his time with Rovers that he won 10 of his Ireland caps.

In 1967, he was one of fourteen players Rovers brought to America to compete as the Boston Rovers in the 1967 edition of the United Soccer Association. The 22 year old Mulligan made just 6 appearances for the Boston side, netting a goal.

Mulligan and the Boston Rovers in 1967
The following season, the Boston Rovers had become the Boston Beacons, and the United Soccer Association had become the North American Soccer League (NASL). In the summer of 1968, the new Boston side invited Mulligan to return to the city and play for them as the Irish season was finished. 

This time, Mulligan made 21 appearances for the Beacon's, scoring 4 goals. Playing at Fenway Park, in front of an average attendance of 4,000 people, the Beacons finished last in the Atlantic Division. The franchise was disbanded later that summer, and Mulligan returned to Shamrock Rovers.

He didn't stay long in Ireland however, as he was signed by London giants Chelsea for 17,500 pounds. In three years at the Stamford Bridge club, he made over 60 appearances, including one as a substitute against Real Madrid in the Cup Winners' Cup Final in Athens.

Over the next 8 years, Mulligan would line out for Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion and again for Shamrock Rovers, before retiring from playing, for the first time, in 1980.

In June of that year, his former manager at West Bromwich Albion, Englishman Ronnie Allen, asked him to come with him to Greece. Allen had just been appointed manager of Athens based giants Panathinaikos, and for the Dubliner this was an adventure that proved too good to turn down.

Founded in 1908, Panathinaikos remain one of Greece's most successful and well supported clubs. In their 104 year history; they have claimed 20 Greek Championships  17 Cups and reached the final of the European Cup in 1971. Known as To Ttifylli (the Shamrock), they play home matches at the 69,000 Olympic Stadium in Athens. However, in Mulligan's time at the club, they played at the smaller Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium. (Despite myths to the contrary, the clubs colours and emblem have nothing to do with Ireland or any Irish connection)

Ronnie Allen took Mulligan to Greece
After a poor start to the 1980-81 season however, Allen was sacked. Unusually, Mulligan didn't also face the chop and follow his mentor out the door. He was kept by the club and interim manager Andreas Papaemanouil retained the Irishman as his Assistant.

On 17th September, Mulligan was on the bench as Panathinaikos took to the field in Turin to play Italian giants Juventus in the 1980-81 UEFA Cup First Round. With Liam Brady in their squad, and coached by current Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, the Old Lady ran out 4-0 winners on the night, thumping PAO on the counter attack. Mulligan admitted to becoming a huge fan of Trapattoni after this game. He continues to defend the Italian's record as Ireland manager today.

Mulligan's Panathinaikos beaten by Juventus

In the return leg in Athens, Panathinaikos won 4-2, and were eliminated from the competition on a 6-4 aggregate scoreline. Papaemanouil would also lose his job due the side's poor early season form, and the club then hired Austrian Helmut Senekowitsch to coach the side. Again, Mulligan would outlive his manager, and Senekowitsch also kept the Dubliner on as his number two.

The 1980-81 Alpha Ethniki season would see Panathinaikos finish in a poor 5th place, 10 points behind champions Olympiacos. However, this finish allowed them to qualify for the next season's UEFA Cup. In the Greek Cup they were knocked out by AEK Athens in the Third Round, and ended the season trophiless. 

Mulligan's team in 1981
Senekowitsch was relieved of his duties, and Mulligan found himself working under Lakis Petropoulos, in the Greek manager's third spell at the club. The 1981-82 Alpha Ethniki season bore fruit for the club. Petropoulos was sacked in mid-season, and Mulligan found himself working under his fifth coach. 61 year old former Romania, France and Ajax coach Stefan Kovacs was brought in the reignite the club's league aspirations. Like his predecessor, he kept Mulligan on the books,because of the Irishman's valuable insight into the squad. 

Kovacs brought the club back to the top of the league, and Panathinaikos finished joint 1st place with Olympiacos, only to loose to their rivals in a play-off. The Romanian would inspire the club to the 1981-82 Greek Cup beating Larissa 1-0 in the final. This would be the crowning moment in Mulligan's time in Greece and his only trophy in coaching. He left following the final and returned to Ireland.

He later managed Galway United and Shelbourne in the mid-1980s and also applied for the Ireland manager's job, only to loose to Eoin Hand.

In 1999, Mulligan auctioned off all his trophies and medals and emigrated back to Greece, but for soccer reasons. "I want to make a new start, so I don't need all the trappings of a lifetime in football."

Mulligan today

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