Corica, Lambert And Others – Revealing Insights
New Take On Former Men Of Molineux
Having given a praising mention last week to Martin O’Neill’s new autobiography, we are more than happy to follow up with this second piece that we hope will further interest our readers.
The 350-page publication, by Macmillan, is very much top end of the table as football life stories go and has surprised us with the number of Wolves-related references.
About his appointment as manager of a second-grade Leicester in 1995-96, the 71-year-old briefly alludes to the comment of his predecessor, Mark McGhee, that he was inheriting an eighth-placed Filbert Street squad who were ‘good enough to win the division by a stretch.’
O’Neill makes it clear he was not so convinced and goes on to detail the prompt parting of the ways with Steve Corica, the Australian who McGhee had taken to the East Midlands a few months earlier.
Somewhat taken aback by the midfielder’s insistence that he was no longer enjoying his football, he enquired why and was told: “I miss the previous manager. I really respect the guy and would like to go to join him at Wolves.”
A few days after the player had been granted his wish with a move from East Midlands to West Midlands, Leicester won 3-2 in a cracking night game at Molineux, of which the manager recalled: “It is made even more special for me when Corica is hauled off wth 20 minutes to go. I move closer to him and bellow a few profanities in his direction.”
There is much in this book to interest fans of many clubs but we will confine our specific recollections from it to Wolves matters – and there are plenty.
O’Neill offers some revealing insight on Zeljko Kalac, the giant Aussie keeper who was involved in a tug o’ war between the two clubs, and describes Henri Camara, who he took on loan from Molineux to Celtic in 2004, as ‘a livewire on the pitch who scored quite often in the early part of the season.’
Jackie McNamara also receives a name-check in complimentary tones and there is a reminder of how Steven Fletcher scored five goals in his first four Premier League games for O’Neill’s Sunderland immediately after leaving Wolves in 2012.
But it is the paragraph devoted to one of McNamara’s Celtic Park team-mates, Paul Lambert, that caught our eye even more.
In talking about the man who was to become the boss at Wolves after managing two of O’Neill’s former clubs, Wycombe and Villa, the author used the description: ‘A splendid professional footballer.’
“He is now in the autumn of his career but still possesses the fitness of a 22-year-old,” he wrote. “He is also the proud owner of a European Cup medal, won with Borussia Dortmund when they beat Juventus. How good must that have been for him?
“To leave Scotland, to go on trial in Germany, to be taken on by Dortmund, to get into the team, to stay in the team and to learn German. And now at Celtic, he has been a big influence in a dressing room filled with big characters.”
*O’Neill’s book, On Days Like These, is now available.