The former French boss was beaten to the job by Brian Kerr
Former France manager Raymond Domenech has revealed in an interview with The Guardian that he almost succeeded Mick McCarthy as Ireland manager.
The 64-year-old was in charge of the French Under-21 side at the time when he was interviewed of the Irish job in Paris. The former defender admitted he made the final shortlist for the job. "I made it on to a three-man shortlist for the Ireland job and was interviewed for it in Paris. In the end they decided to give it to an Irishman, Brian Kerr. But I would have adored it if I’d got it. I love Ireland and the Irish".
Domenech became France's manager the following year after Euro 2004 and led the side to the World Cup final in Germany in 2006, but he told The Guardian he remembers the 1-0 in Dublin fondly on the way to qualification for the tournament. "I love the atmosphere there. I still remember when we played at Lansdowne Road in 2005 and we won thanks to a goal by Henry. The press had twisted some comments I’d made beforehand and after the game I had to walk through a load of supporters. I hesitated, thinking: ‘Oh shit, this could be trouble,’ but I pressed ahead.
Domenech led France to the 2006 World Cup Final. Picture by: CHRISTOPHE ENA / AP/Press Association Images
The Irish fans' behaviour after the game has stuck with Domenech to this day. "Everyone just patted me on the back saying: ‘Well done, good game.’ I couldn’t believe it. It was like: ‘OK, we played, we lost, let’s have a drink together.’ I love that attitude. It would have been great to have been Ireland manager. I am always upset when they don’t make it to a major tournament."
Domenech was involved in the 2010 World Cup Play-Off when France qualified in controversial circumstances, but he claims the right result happened despite Ireland's performances in Paris. "They put in an extraordinary performance in Paris but don’t forget that we should have won 2-0 or 3-0 in the first leg so there was a sporting balance that was logical."
Despite almost getting the Ireland job in 2003, Domenech revealed he fell in love with the Irish fans almost a decade earlier. "When I went to the World Cup in 1994 I made sure I went to wherever the Irish fans were because there was always a drink and a good vibe." He added the he hopes to mingle with the Irish fans this summer in France "because they can get drunk and stay happy".
The former French manager has not had a job since the 2010 World Cup but has said he would return to the game if a "special offer" came along.