For Spurs, Forest and Blades fans too: another side of Andy Reid

With more space, Charlton and Irish fans could have been added to that list. They may also know that Andy Reid has varied gifts and interests. Guitar thieves permitting, he does a decent job on his Gibson. He also plays banjo, writes songs and knows a little about history and politics. This interview supplied to Salut! Sunderland gives a flavour of a man with a life beyond football …

So if Bob Dylan and Michel Platini walked through the door and extended right hands to Andy Reid, which would he shake first?

That one’s easy. Dylan every time. But maybe Platini was a bad choice. What if Mr Zimmerman’s fellow caller happened to be Diego Maradona, Andy’s ultimate football hero? “Then I’d probably have to shake hands with both at the same.”

There you have it, more or less as he put it himself in an interview with the online sports publication

Our first thought might be: there’s a true Irishman speaking – doubtless the hand of God, deployed to thwart the perfidious English, swayed it for him.

It would also fit snugly with Andy’s outlook on life. The interview hardly touches on football, but we learn a lot about his other interests, and hear him sing. Here are a couple of snapshots:

* Most admired figures from history: Che Guevara – consult the tattoo on his left arm – and James Connolly, executed by a British firing squad after the 1916 Easter Rising. He chose both as examples of people who, though born elsewhere (Argentina and Scotland respectively), gave their lives fighting for foreign causes.

* Musical inspiration: Gerry O’Connor, popular (especially in Ireland) from solo performance and his work with Four Men and a Dog. “Best banjo player in the world,” says Andy.

I won’t reveal more of the interview, preferring to leave it to you to check out for yourselves.

There is a possibility that Andy may have played his last game for Sunderland. I am disappointed because I have always rated him.

Pete Sixsmith, of this parish, first alerted me to his midfield talents when he was at Nottingham Forest and I marvelled when living in Paris at his part in a terrific Irish team performance against France – though they couldn’t quite force a winner – at the Stade de France five or six years ago. I will never forget watching his glorious crossfield pass to set up Daryl Murphy’s astonishing goal against Wigan in 2008 (just after the commentator – I was watching in Abu Dhabi – had made an impertinent remark about Andy’s build).

If he does remain at Sheffield United, or leave us permanently for someone else, I wish him well. Despite the injury problems he suffered at Sunderland, he made a fine contribution to the team and was in great shape and on fire before last season’s mid-term slump (and his own layoff).

And since our musical tastes are not a million miles apart – I share his fondness for Christy Moore – I look forward to seeing how he develops his activities as a singer-songwriter for the rest of his sporting career and afterwards.

Monsieur Salut

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