Trappatoni’s Communication Problems Down to Mistakenly Learning Irish

The Irish national soccer team coach, Giovanni Trappatoni, has been struggling with communication difficulties during his tenure because he has been mistakenly learning Irish, the FAI revealed yesterday. A spokesman for the organisation said, “While players and fans alike have wondered if Trappatoni will ever master our language, it turns out that since he was appointed in February 2008 he has been taking intensive Irish lessons, under the mistaken impression that Irish was the national language of Ireland.”

Added the official, “I don’t know where he got that idea from.” 

The fact that Trappatoni was speaking Irish only came to light after he attempted to rally the Irish team’s spirit by ending a fiery speech with the words “Tiocfaidh ár lá!” The phrase was immediately recognised by goalkeeper Shay Given, who had heard it a few times in his native Donegal. “I felt he didn’t understand what he was saying,” said Given. “In Italian it probably means something like ‘Come on the lads,’ but I quickly took the gaffer aside and warned him that in Irish it means something else and he should be careful about how he uses it.” 

“Actually, I’m not entirely sure what it means,” added Given. “But if the Shinners use it as a slogan then it can’t be good.”

Giovanni Trappatoni looking bewildered as he realises he has been learning the wrong language for 2 years.

Irish manager Giovanni Trappatoni realises he has been learning the wrong language for 2 years.

In order to explain to Trappatoni why it was wrong, the FAI contacted Prof. Cecil Syngen-Smythe of Trinity, one of the few people in the world with a decent knowledge of Irish. “Imagine my astonishment when Trappatoni suddenly began speaking in fluent Gaeilge,” said Prof. Syngen-Smythe bemusedly. “When he found out that I understood him he became very animated, asking me questions about why no one else ever seemed to understand a word he said. He was worried about his pronunciation, but I assured him that his Irish was remarkably good.”

“He actually lost me there a couple of times,” confessed Prof. Syngen-Smythe.

The news has helped clear up much confusion surrounding Trappatoni’s tenure as Irish manager. “I had criticised him for not encouraging a passing game,” said senior TV analyst John Giles. “But now I’ve seen the translations of his tactical discussions I can see that what he actually favours is playing in tight triangles through midfield before using our wide men to stretch the defence so the ball can be played through to Robbie Keane playing in the hole behind Kevin Doyle. Then it’s up to Robbie to use his vision to pick out the right pass while Doyle and our wingmen converge on the penalty area with full backs and midfielders coming up to support.”

“That message definitely isn’t getting through to the players, though.”

Irish captain Robbie Keane ponders why Trapptoni's language sounds vaguely familiar.

Irish captain Robbie Keane ponders why Trappatoni's language sounds vaguely familiar.

Fellow analyst Liam Brady, who is also an assistant to Trappatoni, was asked why he hadn’t picked up on the language issue earlier. “To be honest,” said Brady, “I don’t actually speak Italian. I know I pretended to so I could get the job, but it became a kind if emperor’s new clothes situation, where Trap would say something and I would pretend I understood. It’s actually a relief to know that he was speaking Irish, which I couldn’t possibly be expected to know, rather than Italian, which I should know because I lived in Italy for a few years.”

Eamon Dunphy said the new transcripts of Trappatoni’s instructions in Irish made for interesting reading. “I’ve always said that he didn’t respond to Thierry Henry’s handball in Paris the way I would have liked him to respond,” said Dunphy. “But according to these new translations he was repeatedly pointing at Henry and yelling “Someone kick that fucker in the bollocks,” which was pretty much my own view at the time.”

“It’s just a shame that the players didn’t get the message.”

Trappatoni shows his frustration as players misunderstand instructions regarding Thierry Henry.

Trappatoni shows his frustration as players misunderstand instructions regarding Thierry Henry.

It can also be revealed that Trappatoni made numerous efforts to persuade midfielder Andy Reid to play for Ireland, extolling his virtues as a playmaker who could really ignite the Irish team’s potential. Sadly, Reid couldn’t make head nor tail of what Trappatoni was trying to say in his fluent Gaelic, and the opportunity for Reid now seems to have passed. However, the news does not mean that Irish soccer fans can hope for a return of that other prodigal footballing son, Stephen Ireland.

“Sure I knew what he was saying,” said Ireland, whose family includes fluent Gaeilgoirs from the most backward regions of the country. “But I don’t answer to that mangled Dublin pidgin version of Gaeilge. If you’re going to speak it at all, you should speak it the proper Cork way.”

“I don’t think I would have responded to that either, though,” added Ireland. “I spent 14 years having that stupid dead language beaten into me in school and I don’t ever want to hear it again.”

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