Sport Off the Ball

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Off the ball: Northern Ireland – what's not to like?

Ger Gilroy

Published 11/06/2014 | 02:30

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Colin Clarke (left) of Northern Ireland takes on Edhino Ibra of Brazil during the 1986 World Cup match at the Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico
Colin Clarke (left) of Northern Ireland takes on Edhino Ibra of Brazil during the 1986 World Cup match at the Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico

MY earliest World Cup memories are the dazzling sun-drenched summer of 1986, when I cheered for both England and Northern Ireland.

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I loved Gary Lineker and I knew all the England players, but I was surprised at why everyone wasn't supporting Northern Ireland, they're just like us only with Northern in front of their name, what's not to like? They play in green, duh.

I mean Pat Jennings was awesome, a record breaker in goals and everyone loved Norman Whiteside so why weren't they cheering for him now? People are dumb.

The impossible glamour of the tournament was so far removed from the qualifier when Jennings became the most capped goalkeeper in the world the previous year at Wembley in a tense 0-0 draw.

Then they got drawn against Brazil and Josimar scored a screamer and it was ok to be beaten by something beautiful. Not the worst lessons to remember from a first World Cup.

Irish Independent

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