Ireland's ex-kitman Charlie O'Leary on how an Italy legend grew to appreciate him

Future Ireland assistant Marco Tardelli was still a player when he met Charlie as he tells Team 33

Mick Byrne, Charlie O'Leary

Pictured today: Former kit-man Charlie O'Leary and former physio Mick Byrne ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

When Giovanni Trapattoni was in charge of Ireland, his assistant was 1982 World Cup winner Marco Tardelli.

But the Italy legend already had an appreciation for the country he would later help coach and that was all thanks to Charlie O'Leary (91).

He was the kitman in Jack Charlton's Ireland setup, working alongside legendary physio Mick Byrne as right-hand men to the manager.

I met both Charlie and Mick at a recent Airtricity #PowerofGreen event where they shared stories from their days as part of Jack's Army  along with Jason McAteer and Ray Houghton.

One of those was Charlie's memories of meeting Tardelli in the mid-80s when the latter visited Dublin with the Italian team.

"When the famous Italian World Cup team came here, they were staying in the Shelbourne Hotel and Tardelli was interested in art and he asked me was there an art gallery around and I said 'there's just one round the corner'. I brought him round the corner to the art gallery," he said.

"But on the way back, we passed by the Mansion House and there was a fishing exhibition on there and I brought him in there. One of the organisers recognised him - you couldn't but recognise him with the beautiful jersey - and he invited the whole team back there. So when the team came back, the Italian people were very satisfied with the way I organised things for them and it was through that also that I helped to get back with Mick [Byrne] again because as a compliment, they took me to Wembley. Myself and Mick palled around together."

Years later, Tardelli would continue to ask about his little Irish friend to then-Italy based Ireland legend Liam Brady.

Mick also chatted about his important role for Ireland which went well beyond the confines of physiotherapy, while he also discussed his time helping Leitrim and Galway to Connacht and All-Ireland glory respectively in the 1990s.

You can listen to the full double-interview on the podcast player below or stream on iTunes: