Brady is raised in Dublin and attends St. Aidan’s C.B.S., leaving before his Intermediate Certificate. He alleges at the time that he had been expelled for missing a school Gaelic football match to play a schoolboy soccer international, however the school denies this.
Brady is a talented offensive midfielder renowned for his left foot and elegant technical skills such as his high-quality passing, vision, and close control, which makes him an excellent playmaker. He combines these abilities with significant tenacity, an eye for goal from midfield, and accurate penalty-taking. In addition to his footballing ability, he also stands out throughout his career for his professionalism.
Brady starts his career at Arsenal F.C., moving to London to join the side on schoolboy forms in 1971, at the age of 15. He turns professional on his 17th birthday in 1973, and makes his debut on October 6, 1973 against Birmingham City F.C. as a substitute for Jeff Blockley. Arsenal reaches three FA Cup finals in a row between 1978 and 1980. Arsenal wins only the 1979 final against Manchester United F.C., with Brady starting the move that ends in Alan Sunderland‘s famous last-minute winner.
Brady spends two seasons with Juventus F.C. in Italy, picking up two Italian Championship medals, in 1981 and 1982. He scores the only goal (a penalty) in the 1–0 win against Catanzaro that wins the 1982 title.
Brady makes his debut for the Republic of Ireland national football team on October 30, 1974, in a 3–0 win against the Soviet Union at Dalymount Park in a European Championship qualifier. Due to a suspension accrued before UEFA Euro 1988 he is not eligible to play within the tournament. During qualifications for the 1990 FIFA World Cup he retires from the international game. As Ireland advances to the World Cup he declares himself available to play once again. However, manager Jack Charlton goes on to declare that only those who played in the qualifiers will make the trip to Italy. Brady wins 72 international caps for the Republic of Ireland with 70 within the starting line-up, scoring 9 goals.
Brady goes on to manage two clubs – Celtic F.C. and then Brighton and Hove Albion F.C. – together with being the assistant manager of Ireland’s national football team. He also holds the post of Head of Youth Development at Arsenal F.C. from 1996 to 2013, and is a frequent television pundit with RTÉ Sport.
While at Arsenal F.C., and particularly early in his career, Brady is nicknamed “Chippy”, not for his ability to chip the ball but for his fondness for fish and chips. He also becomes involved in an anti-drugs campaign in the early 1990s, called “give drugs the boot”, encouraging young boys to play sport as a healthy pastime.