Belfast Telegraph

I could have played for Northern Ireland, says Kop legend Walsh

By Steven Beacom

Former Liverpool hero Paul Walsh has revealed that he could have played for Northern Ireland.

Walsh will be here in the summer for part of the Legends XI tour which will see former Liverpool and Manchester United heroes playing at different venues around the province over the course of a week.

Given Paul's family history you could say that he is coming home.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph the ex-England ace told how his dad was born in Belfast.

"Yes, my dad Samuel Dominic Ignatius Walsh was born in Belfast before moving over to London when he was young," said Walsh, renowned for his tremendous skill and flowing locks when he played for Charlton, Luton, Liverpool, Spurs, Portsmouth and Manchester City.

Now, 45, he added: "I could have actually qualified to play for Northern Ireland. I could also have qualified to play for the Republic due to family links.

"But I saw himself as an Englishman and wanted to play for England. It's just a pity that I only ended up with five caps.

"In London as a kid I played alongside people like Andy Townsend and Tony Cascarino, who couldn't get in the England side, and they chose to play for the Republic and ended up winning loads more caps than me and having great international experiences.

"I'd loved to have played more for England but it wasn't to be."

While England managers may not have realised what Walsh could have brought to the party, he will be one of the main men in the summer when Liverpool play in Northern Ireland.

"I'm looking forward to it. We were over last year to play a couple of games and all the boys enjoyed it.

"This year is even more special because we get to play Manchester United.

"That's still the biggest game in England and even though we are a bit older and less fit than when we were playing, everyone out on the pitch will want to win.

"It's Liverpool against United after all.

"I did alright against them in my playing days. I scored against United for Liverpool, Portsmouth and Tottenham.

"For Liverpool I remember scoring in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford and also in a 2-2 draw in the FA Cup semi-finals, so maybe I'll get a third in Northern Ireland."

Despite having left Anfield 20 years ago, Walsh still keeps a close eye on events at his old club.

Like every Liverpool fan, he has been left bemused by the off -pitch squabbles involving co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks, chief executive Ricky Parry and manager Rafael Benitez.

The latest episode in the soap opera came yesterday when Hicks, in an interview with Sky, said Parry had been a disaster for the club and that he would offer Benitez a new deal.

Walsh said: "It's an unbelievable situation and I don't know how it is going to end up. With Tom Hicks and George Gillett you have two people who have massive egos and won't back down. With Hicks saying in the Sky interview that he would offer Rafa Benitez an extension to his contract, that was clearly a move to try to win over the Liverpool fans.

"Whether or not he is successful remains to be seen. He is obviously trying to undermine Rick Parry and George Gillett and basically the whole thing is the mess - not something you associate with Liverpool Football Club. "

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph