O’Neills embody cerebral tradition of Blanchflower and Irish game’s best | Michael Walker

The Republic and Northern Ireland managers, Martin and Michael O’Neill, realise the importance of a thoughtful approach to their World Cup play-offs against Denmark and Switzerland

“Thinkers are the deadliest men”

Liam Brady was playing for Internazionale in Serie A when he said this to Hugh McIlvanney in the Observer in 1984. Brady had won two Italian titles with Juventus and was discussing the stylistic contrast between Italy and England, where Brady had been such an elegant force at Arsenal for a decade, and was the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Player of the Year in 1979. “The public don’t necessarily want a lot of hectic, brainless action,” Brady added. “They like to see quality, thinking players.”

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