Garry Breen has certainly had an eventful career.
From being managed by Stuart Pearce and Sven Goran-Eriksson at Manchester City to plying his trade in the Northern Ireland Premier League, the Kilkenny man has seen it all.
Breen currently plays for Cliftonville. His side sit sixth in the league and are a point away from European qualification in third. Despite a disappointing 2-0 defeat away to league leaders Linfield yesterday, Breen is optimistic about Cliftonville’s prospects of making it into Europe next season, saying that it is crucial for the club and the players to do so.
“For a club like ourselves the money from the Europa League is crucial.
“Also, from a players point of view, there’s not many people who can say that they have played in the Europa League so third place is firmly in our sights.”
Breen was part of the Manchester City youth side who made the 2006 FA Youth Cup Final. Despite eventually losing to Liverpool 3-2 on aggregate, Breen only has fond memories of getting to play with Premier League winners Micah Richards and Daniel Sturridge.
“I played with Micah Richards and Daniel Sturridge. They were great players. It was just a great experience to get to play with those players. I just loved it,” said Breen.
Breen was a whisker away from playing for the City senior side when former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson was in charge. However, a cruel blow meant that it was not to be for the former Galway United and Dundalk player.
“We were playing Norwich in the Carling Cup on a Tuesday and on the Monday beforehand the kitman called me into the dressing room to show me my kit.
“I was in the squad. Unfortunately, I went over on my ankle in training so I couldn’t play. I tried to hide it from Sven, but he knew so I wasn’t in the squad.
“I was only 17 but that’s football. It took a while to get over something like that at such a young age.”
After his time with City had come to an end Breen returned to Ireland following a brief spell with Hereford. His League of Ireland career lasted two years, playing under Iain Foster at Galway and Dundalk.
In 2011, the Kilkenny man made the move North to Portadown. After six years at the club, Breen decided it was time for a move. Cliftonville was his destination and Breen has loved every minute at The Reds.
“I’ve absolutely loved being at Cliftonville. Their style of play is brilliant. Everything is on the ground. I’ve been here for five years now and I’m just loving it,” said Breen.
Although he has no immediate plans to return to football in the Republic, Breen will not rule out a return home at some stage later in his career.
He said: “I would like to give it another go in the League of Ireland. I have another year on my contract at the moment, so we’ll see what happens.”