Saturday 10 December 2016

'We drank Guinness two days before Italy': John Aldridge reveals Ireland's relaxed Italia 90 preparation

Published 15/10/2016 | 11:32

Football was different back then.

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Drink bans are enforced by most teams today but in 1990, Ireland appeared to have a very relaxed attitude to alcohol in the build-up to games. A new authorised biography about Jack Charlton is being serialised in the Daily Mail, and some of his former players have told some brilliant stories about their time working with the England World Cup winner.

One anecdote that stands out is ex-Ireland striker John Aldridge's memories about how the Boys in Green prepared for their World Cup quarter-final at Italia 90.

Ireland were due to play Italy, and in order to allay any nerves, Charlton allowed the squad have a few pints of Guinness two days before the game. Ireland may have lost the match 1-0, but the story is still hilarious, with Charlton joining in with the squad bonding, much to the surprise of the many onlookers.

"Two days before we were due to play Italy, the lads were getting restless so Jack said we could have a couple of pints each when the Guinness truck came to the hotel in Rome," Aldridge says.

"The Guinness was set up round the pool with all the media people hanging round, plus the Italian police who were guarding us.

"The cops couldn't believe that the Ireland players were drinking two days before we were due to play Italy, and that the manager was in the thick of it."

Aldridge also recounts a bit of dietary advice given to him by Charlton that probably wouldn't be echoed by many healthcare professionals.

"He treated you like a man. If he saw someone drinking a Coke, he'd say, 'What are you drinking that s*** for? Guinness is better for you'."

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