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Hodgson almost became Ireland boss

Roy Hodgson was close to becoming Ireland boss before taking charge at Fulham
Roy Hodgson was close to becoming Ireland boss before taking charge at Fulham

England manager Roy Hodgson was "very close" to taking charge of the Republic of Ireland eight years ago.

The nations go head to head for just second time in 20 years on Sunday, with the Aviva Stadium encounter the Three Lions' first trip to Dublin since the despicable scenes of 1995.

Hodgson will be in the England dugout but former England coach Don Howe has revealed he could have been managing the Boys in Green.

Along with Don Givens and Ray Houghton, Howe was part of the task force charged with finding a successor for Steve Staunton in 2007 - a role Giovanni Trapattoni filled after Hodgson plumped for a move a move to Fulham.

"Roy was close, very close, to taking charge of Ireland," Howe told the matchday programme.

"I said from the start then that he was the man we needed. Roy is someone I've known for years.

"He knows all about management and coaching at the highest level, he knows what is needed for tournament football and he was the ideal fit.

"I arranged a meeting between Roy, myself and the others working for the FAI.

"Everything seemed to be on target but just as it looked like it was all coming together, Fulham came in and snapped him up.

"I couldn't blame them or Roy - it was a great opportunity for him and it was a huge success for both manager and club."