Sunday 23 October 2016

25 years since our World Cup dream ended - here are the headlines following that night in Rome and subsequent homecoming

Published 30/06/2015 | 20:58

This time 25 years ago, Ireland heroically bowed out of the World Cup at the quarter-final stage in Italy when a Toto Schillaci goal secured a 1-0 win for Italy over Jack Charlton's men in Rome.

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Here is Packie Bonner's column from the Irish Press two days after the exit in Rome.


WELL, we're out of the World Cup. But I don't think we let anyone down.

I thought the whole team battled magnificently all the way, and, with a bit of luck up front we might have pushed the Italians to another penalty shoot-out. I wasn't that impressed by the Italians. I believe we handled them pretty well.

The goal came at just the right time for them. I read some criticism yesterday in some newspapers which suggested that I was at fault. But even now I deny that.

I can still picture the situation vividly. And I have studied it a couple of times on television. Donadoni hit it very well and it actually changed direction. It was originally going to my left but then it turned and I pushed it right.

I parried it exactly where I wanted to. But for once Schillaci was out of position. He should have been in the centre to get at the end of any cross from Donadoni. If he had been in his right position he would have been picked up by one of the central defenders.

Unfortunately for us he was on his own out on the right in the wilderness. He took his chance very well and placed his shot wide of my outstretched left arm. But he was lucky to be in that position at that time. It was just the break the Italians needed.

Otherwise I thought we handled them very well, considering the fact that they had huge support in their home stadium. They disappointed me to be honest.

I expected a lot more from them. I thought they would have got forward a lot more. But it is to our credit that we didn't allow them to.

Certainly on that form I can't see them beating the West Germans. I was greatly impressed by Franz Beckenbauer's side when they played in Dublin.

Then they were very under strength, but even so they looked a very good side. Now with the likes of Klinnsman to call on. I think they are much stronger side than Italy.

But to get back to Ireland, it was I know a tremendous achievement to make the quarter finals of the World Cup. While we don't like losing to any side, at least that is some consolation for us.

The people at home yesterday showed us how they feel and they eased the pain of losing. The reception they gave us was absolutely marvellous.

I thought the reception after the European Championships in Germany two years ago was magnificent but the turnout yesterday even bettered that. It took us almost three hours to get to the centre of Dublin and they roared us all along the way.

I will never forget the atmosphere and colour of the occasion. We were very tired, but we owed it to the fans who have been marvellous to us. We really appreciate them and all their efforts for us.

Now I just want a break with my wife and family, and I want to forget about football for a few weeks. My holidays are shorter this year because of the World Cup and within weeks I will be back at Parkhead training for the new season.

But not before I return to Donegal for a brief holiday with my family, I know that will be a hectic time. But the Donegal people are very special to me. I met quite a few of them in Italy — in fact at one stage I thought the whole of Donegal was out there — and I expect to see a lot more of them in the next few weeks. Then it's back to prepare for a new season with Celtic and for the European Championships with Ireland. But I don't want to think about that yet. I badly need a break. We all do.

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