Belgium lure ‘set piece master’ Anthony Barry from Ireland

Barry joined Ireland a year ago

Barry joined Ireland a year ago

CHELSEA first-team coach Anthony Barry has left the Republic of Ireland after a year to join Belgium ahead of the World Cup.

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez said he had been an admirer of the 35-year-old’s since he was part of Paul Cook’s coaching staff at Wigan. Barry joined Chelsea from the Latics under Frank Lampard in August 2020 and has remained a key part of Thomas Tuchel’s staff at Stamford Bridge.

He was appointed assistant to Stephen Kenny with Ireland in February 2021 but said the opportunity to join Martinez and Belgium had been a “no-brainer”.

"I never thought of leaving them until the question came from Roberto Martinez,” he said ahead of a friendly international between the two sides in Dublin yesterday, which finished 2-2.

"I used to work at Wigan when Martínez came to visit there. We started talking and we've always kept in touch. When he asked me to help him, it was a no-brainer. I couldn't resist the offer to work with such a coach and with such a good team. Certainly not with the World Cup coming up.”

Former Latics boss Martinez added: “I came across Anthony Barry when he was at Wigan Athletic and he was a very impressive young coach at that point. I’ve followed him for a long time, then he moved to Chelsea and won the Champions League.

“He will bring to our set-up something very, very important ahead of the World Cup. I’m very happy with our technical staff. We have to work toward having the best possible technical staff we can have, to surround the talent of player in our team.

“I don’t need to apologise but I can understand he’s a big loss for Stephen Kenny’s technical staff.”

Belgium midfielder Youri Tielemans said: “He’s been here for just a few days but has given our team intensity in training. This is purely an English mentality - or Irish - in training. He is known for being a set-piece master so we have worked on those.”

Belgium already have a strong British contingent on their staff, with Welshman Richard Evans the Head of Performance and Englishman Luke Benstead the Head of Performance Analysis and Innovation.

QPR assistant John Eustace has replaced Barry in the Ireland set-up. The 42-year-old will continue in his QPR job and join up with the Republic squad during international windows and Kenny described him as an "accomplished and well-respected coach".

Eustace said: "I'm looking forward to working with this young group of players.”

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