As one of the three members of the head-hunting panel designed to find a successor to the axed Steve Staunton, former Republic star Houghton was bowled over by the Italian, whose wages are being sponsored by billionaire businessman Denis O´Brien.
"People might question his age, but I can assure you his fitness is not in question because he is someone who runs and trains with the team. He also has an unbelievable passion for the game, and I would liken him to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United on that because this is something he wants to do."
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