The Welsh football manager has revealed his love for The Smiths

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FAW boss Noel Mooney and The Smiths (Credit: FAW)

Christopher Evans

It’s official, Wales have the coolest Chief Executive in world football.

Noel Mooney, who took charge of FAW in 2021, spoke to Nation.Cymru about his love of music and more specifically his passion for ’80s Manchester indie legends The Smiths.

Mooney, who regularly communicates and interacts with fans on Twitter, also today tweeted a picture of the cover art of the band’s seminal album, The Queen is Dead, with the words “Melancholic Genius.”

When he’s not leading the Football Association of Wales to even greater heights, he enjoys relaxing with music and especially the songs of Morrissey and Marr.

“The Smiths are my band, clearly my band,” smiles the likeable Irishman.

“I went to Wrexham the other day and put them on from start to finish. I had them on repeat. Every minute I listen to them I think, “This is awesome”. I got in touch with them when I was about 15 or 16. You just said a lot to me that no one else has said, I suppose. You told me verbatim. Through their music, through their words. Things I had never heard before, it just connected beautifully with me.”

Growing up in the small town of Cappamore, County Limerick, Ireland, Mooney’s taste in music was initially influenced by his siblings.

“Growing up I was a big fan of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, The Doors. That’s what was going on at my house. My sisters and brothers loved music, our whole household.”

power to be kind

Mooney says The Smiths resonated with him in a way that no other band has or has done since.

“Maybe Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley were a bit too exotic for us Irish people,” he laughs. “The Doors were from LA and it was a little bit different and also cool. But The Smiths, I suppose because they were from those islands and probably grew up in similar circumstances to mine, it just spoke to me.

Mooney perks up when he talks about the musicianship of his heroes, Morrissey and Johnny Marr.

“They were special. That was different, that was actually the case back then. Things we thought but we just didn’t say. It was the way they framed it, the music and the way they wrapped and wrapped it. The way they did it all was just perfect.”

The former goalkeeper says The Smiths were pioneers and paved the way for the “Madchester” scene and bands like the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and even Oasis. He beams: “The Smiths just stand out from this crowd for me.”

When asked about his favorite album, the 45-year-old doesn’t hesitate. “The Queen is dead.” There is a little pause while thinking about his favorite song until he sits forward in his chair and smiles. “It has to be ‘I Know It’s Over,’ I think. It might not be a song that stands out or really gets performed all the time, but it’s one that I always think, ‘that makes sense’, I just get it when I hear it. I understand what he’s trying to say.”

When asked to elaborate, Mooney is more than happy to oblige.

The Smiths (Credit: Publicity image)

“Whenever I hear ‘I Know It’s Over’ there are lines that blow my mind every time. “It’s so easy to laugh, it’s so easy to hate, it takes strength to be gentle and kind.” Which is so true. It’s easy to hate people, it’s easy to make fun of people.

“You see it now, for example, in American and British politics. That kind of left or right, red or blue. It’s garbage. We are all quite complex people. You simplified the argument.

“In fact, sometimes it takes a lot more strength to be nice to people, to be gentle and kind to people. You know, we’re busy people, we have different feelings — actually stepping back and being nice to someone is sometimes harder. The way he says it, you know he really means it.”

The way Noel Mooney says it, you know he really means it. Morrissey has changed somewhat in recent years, his view of the world seems very different from that of the young lead singer with his hair disheveled and gladioli sticking out of his back pocket.

“We’ll save that for another day, I think,” laughs Mooney. “Maybe he’s been in Hollywood too long, I don’t know.”

Mooney strives to bring back the art, music and lyrics his hero once spawned. “See, for me, whatever he does, at a certain point he wrote things that I will take to my grave because they were just so perfect, so beautiful, and so irreverent. The Smiths are geniuses to me.”

As for the World Cup Playoff Finals on June 5, I’m sure the thought of every member of The Red Wall will be, “Please, please, please, let me get what I want.”

Read Christopher Evans’ exclusive full interview with Noel Mooney on Wales, the World Cup and the Red Wall this weekend on Nation.Cymru.


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