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Former Ireland manager Vera Pauw. Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Vera Pauw 'destroyed' by Ireland player's criticism, and 'disappointed' by successor's reaction

The former Ireland manager has spoken publicly for the first time since the week of her departure.

VERA PAUW SAYS she was “angry” and “destroyed” in the wake of Diane Caldwell’s public criticism last September.

Caldwell was scathing in her assessment following Pauw’s departure as Republic of Ireland women’s national team boss, claiming that “the results and performances that we got were in spite of Vera being our coach”.

Pauw responded to Caldwell’s criticisms on Second Captains’ Episode With Richie Sadlier, speaking publicly for the first time since the week last August when the FAI decided against renewing her contract.

In a wide-ranging, hour-long podcast recorded in her home in France last week, the Dutch coach also shared her disappointment in the reaction of her successor, Eileen Gleeson.

“I was angry, I was destroyed, I was probably everything that she wanted me to feel,” Pauw told Sadlier about Caldwell’s comments.

The 61-year-old backed her own management, and explained how “hurtful” it was after selecting Caldwell for the World Cup despite her limited club playing time.

“Where in men’s football would a player be given the opportunity, who’s only played so few minutes [for their club], to go to the World Cup and be part of it?

“In our conversations, all the other technical staff members wanted to put her on the table as a discussion point. I have said Diane Caldwell is not a discussion point.

“I protected her, and she does this to me.”

Asked how she would react if a player in her squad spoke about her predecessor to the media like that, Pauw said: “I would have said you can go up to your room, pack your bags, and leave the camp.”

And what of Gleeson’s public reaction? “I’m disappointed because two weeks earlier we said nothing comes between us. I said we love each other. We spoke it out, ‘nothing comes between us’.

“And the first thing she says is Diane has the right to say things because everybody can have an open opinion. But this is not a true opinion.”

“Why would somebody do that [be so critical] if you go to the World Cup as a very small nation, if you have astonished the football world,” she continued. 

“Last week, I still got the compliments: ‘How on earth did you do that?’

“If I planned the success, controlling the steps that we make and the steps that we have to make, how to be ready and playing those games, that is not up to the player to judge that.

vera-pauw-with-diane-caldwell Pauw with Diane Caldwell in February 2023. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“Because we played our best games, we played far above the level that anyone ever expected from us, so what do you want?

“There’s no team that started the World Cup like we did. All the other debutants – also the big teams – had problems, they had to grow into the tournament. We were there immediately. Well, how? That is not because of a coach that is not doing anything.”

Pauw offered her own account of her Ireland tenure and exit, detailing the shift after fresh misconduct allegations from her time in the US emerged just before the World Cup. She refutes all misconduct allegations against her.

Pauw, who went public with rape and sexual abuse allegations in July 2022, also revealed her options were “find help or kill myself” after she named in the initial NWSL report in December 2022. She is currently undergoing intense therapy.

In terms of football, the former Ireland, Netherlands, South Africa and Scotland manager believes she is now unemployable in the western world due to the misconduct accusations.

“They don’t want the issues around it. If they appoint me, they immediately get questions,” Pauw said.

You can listen to the full interview below:

If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this article, you can reach out for support through the following helplines. These organisations also put people in touch with long-term supports:

  •  Samaritans 116 123 or email
  •  Text About It - text HELLO to 50808 (mental health issues)
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  •  Pieta House 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444 – (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Written by Emma Duffy and posted on