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By ESPN Staff

Racist hate mail was lowest point

Brian Kerr has admitted receiving racist hate mail during his time in charge of the Republic of Ireland.

Kerr was this week succeeded by Steve Staunton as manager, with the 52-year-old sincerely passing on his best wishes to Ireland's most-capped player, who made 102 appearances.

But after a glorious playing career, Staunton now finds himself in the altogether different world of international management.

There will undoubtedly be highs and lows, as Kerr discovered during his 33-month tenure, one which ended in his departure last October after failing to guide Ireland to this summer's World Cup finals.

One of his lowest points came via the 'vile' letters he personally received, vehemently denouncing the black element in his team and backroom staff, leaving Kerr sick to his stomach.

Ahead of the launch in Dublin of 'The Brian Kerr Intercontinental League', a six-week tournament involving teams from Ireland's ethnic communities and organised by Sport Against Racism in Ireland, Kerr made shocking revelations.

'While I was manager of the Irish team I had to put up with a series of fairly vile abusive letters about the multiculturalism of the Irish team,' confirmed Kerr.

'That was because I had Chris Hughton, a very Irish black man on the staff, and I had black players in the team, like Clinton Morrison and Steven Reid.

'It was the first time I've really come across it up front and up close to me.

'It was vile stuff, but it was sad really, and it just shows you that there's some twisted minds around the place.

'The letters came from different sources, but names and addresses were scarce, as you can imagine. I passed that stuff onto the Guards (police) by the way.

'It just shows you the mentality that can be around the place, instead of seeing the gifts these players and coaches had and how they had done a fantastic job and will continue to.

'They're as Irish as Irish can be. It emphasised for me how narrow-minded people can be, but also the responsibility of people in sport to rid ourselves of that type of thinking.'

Kerr, who has dismissed suggestions he is poised to become the new South Africa manager as was recently suggested, is hoping Staunton can rekindle the glory days for Ireland.

The former Liverpool, Aston Villa and Coventry defender, who turned 37 yesterday, was officially appointed last Friday on a four-year contract.

With former England manager Sir Bobby Robson serving as advisor, Kerr added: 'There's an interesting group of people now running the team.

'Steve has been an exceptional player for Ireland in the past and he's brought in other people that have experience of management and so on.

'Like anyone who has a real passion for Irish football, a real love for it and who wants success for us in sport, I hope they have success in the future and good luck to them with it.'

Kerr, meanwhile, has admitted to feeling 'awkward' at 'a flyer' that had him due to take over South Africa, especially with a manager in charge as they prepare for the African Nations Cup campaign.

Kerr concedes he has applied for a position Terry Venables has also been linked with, but adds: 'They have a manager in place and the association is fully supporting him in that job.

'We'll see what happens, but I've had no negotiations whatsoever or direct contact personally with the South African Football Association.'