Gianluca Vialli: “Erin's Isle is what football could be, but it’s not”

Gianluca Vialli outside Erin's Eyle GAA Club

Erin's Isle is like what football could be, but it’s not. I’m not saying it’s got to be like that, but sometimes when you want to feel and think in a romantic way, you might wish that football - or soccer as you call it in Ireland - would be like that

Where you have people from the same region or county competing on the one team against a team from another region - you only play for the county.

The community aspect with Erin’s Isle is fantastic. It's a family atmosphere, people know each other, they are happy to spend time with each other.

When I was growing up in Cremona we had the church and the oratory and this is what was happening to me! We would go to the oratory, we would play football together and then we would have a team playing a team from another oratory.

As you grow up, things change. In Gaelic football things don’t change - they remain the same. There’s no money changing hands so I was very, very excited to come and find out more about a sport that is so huge, but is yet classed as amateur.

I was really looking forward to getting back into that atmosphere, that environment. That mentality where everything is about the community and is about the players and for the love of the game; passion.

I immediately discovered that Erin's Isle is very much a family club and so many kids are involved, which is amazing.

They have 64 teams, which is unheard of in football. 50 of them are for the youngsters, 600 kids I think.

I saw the training sessions; all the kids seem to have fun and the parents are not getting involved in the wrong way. It’s fun, but very useful and it’s all about the community. It’s all about starting to play for your parish.

Everybody seems to be down to earth; there are no egos.

No egos, no difficult personalities and that makes your job so much easier because in modern day football, footballers are like 'small companies'. They need to build a brand and sometimes egos get in the way.

Football managers have a tough job to make sure everyone pulls in the same direction but that’s not what happens in Gaelic football.

I did some internet research on the game before I came over. I also wanted to know more about Erin’s Isle. I did just enough to make sure I didn’t look like I had landed on a different planet!

Now I guess I am an Erin's Isle man! Even after my time here, I’m going to keep an eye on how the club does. There is a bond now. There is a lovely atmosphere here and I was also quite surprised at how well the younger players got on with the older players.