'The Irish international job is the ultimate honour' - Stephen KennyThu, Apr 09 2020
The bizarre background of Stephen Kenny's appointment this week as Republic of Ireland manager amidst a global pandemic that has shut much of the world as well as football could never have been envisaged.
With all that is going on around the globe Kenny was able to make it clear just how proud he is to become the boss of the Boys in Green.
The former Ireland under-21 manager is now firmly focussed on his new role with the senior men’s team and is excited with what lies ahead whenever football gets back up and running. Indeed the schedule that could potentially see Ireland play up to 17 games across a nine month period starting in September is one that excites Kenny.
“The Irish international job is the ultimate honour,” said Kenny when he spoke with the Irish sports media at a video press conference on Thursday.
"This is not a stepping stone or platform for me to go elsewhere.
“International football is the pinnacle. It’s a world game, and I think we are unified by this game and it captures the imagination in every corner of the globe. The profile is huge, the standard is high.
“What I’m looking at is that if we got to the Euros, that would mean we have 13 competitive games, and possibly three or four friendlies, between possibly September and June. That would be 16 or 17 games, which has never happened, in three competitions: World Cup qualifiers, Nations League, and European Championships.
“We could have that and present ourselves with that opportunity and try and make that happen. I want to be part of that and I would love everybody to be part of that.”
Reflecting on the situation where the coronavirus has impacted all walks of life not just football, Kenny acknowledged that “there are more important things in the world right now, without doubt.
“Everyone in lockdown needs something to look forward to, and the games in the Autumn, nine games, obviously the Euros play-off and the six Nations League games, with a friendly and then World Cup qualifiers in March, so there’s a lot to look forward to.”
His promotion to the senior role means he has to leave behind the under-21 side that he has brought to the brink of qualification for their own European Championship but he will bring valuable experience from his time at that level of international football to go with his success in the domestic game - particularly most recently with Dundalk.
“The under-21 international matches were, in hindsight, a great experience for me; how to manage the ten day camps. We were fourth seeds, behind Italy, Sweden and Iceland, we lead the group at the moment, albeit Italy have a game in hand.
“The Toulon tournament was an exceptional experience for all of the young Irish players, and a good experience for me also, in relation to preparing the tournament. Getting to the semi-final and playing the Mexican Olympic team twice, and Brazil, China, were great games and a good experience.”
Additional repoting by Dave Donnelly