The Dugout - O'Leary: My sporting heroes

Thu, 27 Oct 12:59:00 2011

We spent a minute with David O'Leary, who invites a pair of sporting legends round for dinner.

World Cup 1974 Deutschland Beckenbauer - 0

Who was your sporting hero as a boy?

Probably Franz Beckenbauer. When I was young I stood on the terraces and watched him when he came to Dublin and also on TV. I thought he was just a fantastic footballer, a defender who could play football and pass it really well. He played in great teams, he was a class act, always my hero. I wouldn't say I tried to model my game on him, but I did try to play a bit of football, break out from the back and pass it from there rather than just heading or kicking it away. That was something I wanted to copy. Also Ayrton Senna, the sadly departed racing driver was a big hero of mine.

Who was the most talented player you ever played with?

Liam Brady of Arsenal, for me. He shone even when football was more physical. The Barclays Premier League now is a better league where the skilful players are allowed to play more. I think he would flourish even more nowadays.

Outside of football, who is the person you most admire and why?

I think the one I admire the most over a long period of time is Jack Nicklaus. I think him and Arnold Palmer were great for golf. Other ones now, I think Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have been fantastic for the tennis world, achieving all they have while staying humble. I think footballers, and people in any walk of life, can look at the way they conduct themselves and look after themselves. It’s the same as the way Jack Nicklaus has conducted himself throughout his life. They are role models for me.

What player that has graced the Barclays Premier League in the past 20 years stands out for you and why?

I think in the Premier League era I'd have to nominate a couple. Roy Keane at Manchester United was just an unbelievable player and a great captain for a great football club. And another who scored so many wonderful goals for a club I love is Thierry Henry at Arsenal. Those two would be my heroes.

David O'Leary was speaking to Yahoo!'s 'The Dugout' through its partnership with the League Managers Association