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Matthew Norman Column: Quinn can raise Irish.

Byline: Matthew Norman

NIALL QUINN is as sick as anyone else of being sanctified over that pounds 1million charitable donation from his Sunderland testimonial, but who cares?

There aren't many saints in football that we can let his retirement pass without a little more gushing.

"Sometimes I feel guilty when I think of how Roy must have felt," said Quinn in an interview on Sunday, recalling the World Cup melodrama, "when none of us bothered to go up to his room in that Saipan hotel and see him the morning he left.

"How bad was he feeling, knowing he was about to miss the greatest show in football? Normally I am good in situations like that but I got it wrong. That will always be a regret."

With anyone else, you'd be suspicious about such saintly self-criticism, wondering if he's secretly after replacing Mick McCarthy as Irish coach and is trying to build bridges with Keane towards that end. With Quinn, such cynicism feels cheap and misplaced.

Even so, he might be an inspired choice. It's true he has no management experience but, given the miracle Mark Hughes is working for Wales, maybe that isn't such a lethal drawback in international football.

It's hard to imagine anyone who would inspire more respect among old team-mates or contemporaries, or rebuild the team spirit that looked shattered in recent Euro 2004 qualifiers, than the enchanting Quinn.

CAPTION(S):

QUINN: Respect
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 12, 2002
Words:238
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