BY CHRIS MCNULTY
FORMER Finn Harps manager Noel King says he is proud to have been chosen by the Football Association of Ireland as interim manager for next month’s World Cup Qualifiers against Germany and Kazakhstan.
His appointment to the position was confirmed almost ten years to the day from he was elected Harps manager.
With the FAI in no rush to appoint a successor to Giovanni Trapattoni, who parted ways following the recent 1-0 defeat to Austria in Vienna, the Association has turned to Dubliner King, the current Irish Under 21 manager, to fill the void.
57-year old King is a well-travelled manager who has also looked after Derry City, Shamrock Rovers and Limerick in the League of Ireland as well as a brief spell at Harps.
King was appointed to Jack Charlton’s backroom staff with the Irish senior team for Italia ‘90. King was in the dressing room for some of the biggest nights in Irish soccer history, including the penalty shoot-out win over Romania and the subsequent quarter-final loss to Italy.
“When I was with the squad at training I was taking notes, learning why he was doing what, and of course I learned a lot from his man-management,” King said of that experience.
“I was fascinated by the whole thing. I was there as a student, really – I used to run around and play in the training matches with the lads.”
King was a surprise choice as manager of Harps in September 2003 following the sacking of Jonathan Speak. The Dubliner’s spell in Ballybofey was a brief on, though he had a pretty impressive record. He managed Harps in 17 League games, winning nine, drawing four and losing four.
King also took charge of both legs of a play-off semi-final win over Bray Wanderers and the subsequent two-legged joust with Derry City. King was sent off during extra time of that dramatic 2-1 second leg defeat to the Candystripes at Brandywell.
His first game as Harps boss was a 2-1 win over Dundalk at Oriel Park with Jonathan Minnock and Tom Mohan on the mark, while he stunned the Finn Park Board by announcing his departure after a 1-1 draw away to Galway (Niall Bonner the goalscorer) following a promising start to the 2004 season.
He was appointed manager on September 20 2003 and announced his resignation on April 25th 2004, saying he ‘couldn’t give full commitment to the job for personal reasons.’
King will announce his squad for the Qualifiers on Monday at the FAI Headquarters, Abbotstown.
“Obviously I was very proud when I was asked to take this role,” King said.
“I’m honoured and even though this is just a caretaker position it’s marvellous for me and for my family. I’m delighted to be given this opptunity and delighted that the FAI had the confidence in me to give me this responsibility.
“I believe in Ireland. The spirit and skills of the players – their never say die attitude. Everybody is aware of that trait in our squad. That’s the starting point.”