Wednesday 1 March 2017

Italia 90 in quotes

Jack Charlton Italia 90
Jack Charlton Italia 90
Con Houlihan
Eamon Dunphy
11 September 1994; Ray Treacy, former Shamrock Rovers manager and former Republic of Ireland international.
Niall Quinn Italia 1990
Eamon Dunphy and John Giles on the panel in 1990

When it was all done and dusted, the great Con Houlihan remarked: "I missed Italia 90. I was in Italy at the time." And everyone who'd basked in the dizzy glory at home knew exactly what he meant. In the dreamy summer of 25 years ago Ireland took its place among the footballing nations of the world when Jack Charlton's squad reached the quarter-final stages of the greatest show on earth.

After the thrilling teaser of Euro 88 this was the real deal. Banished forever was the parochial mindset which in 1982 permitted RTÉ pundit Liam Tuohy to say of the mercurial Brazil winger Eder (pictured below), a star of the most-gifted side not to win the World Cup: "He reminds me of Rosie Henderson, who played for Drumcondra in the 1950s."

Writing in the Evening Herald as the big kick-off neared, GAA champion Eugene McGee cautioned: "There is a concerted effort to convince millions of people ... that they will be outcasts of Irish society if they do not become soccer fanatics next June. It is largely a commercial marketing ploy."

RTÉ commentator Ray Treacy : "The referee frightens me because he's likely to give something of great consequence. Hopefully to us."

RTÉ's George Hamilton: "When I said they'd scored two goals, of course I meant they'd scored one."

Arnold O'Byrne, the unlikely star of the Opel Ireland deal: "I told my guys nothing of what I was up to. I wrapped the deal up and then told them: 'Hey, we're sponsoring the Ireland soccer team!' And they went: 'Oh shit!'"

Allegedly overheard on the morning of a game:

Waiter: "What sort of an omelette would sir like?"

FAI official: "An egg omelette."

Pundit Mark Lawrenson on Jack after a dull draw: "If Plan A fails, try Plan A."

Jack Charlton: "If, in winning the game, we only end up with a draw, we would be fine."

Jack Charlton: "John McGrath." "David Irwin."

Irish trainer Mick Byrne: "They have a rating for me. They went to see The Hunt For Red October before the last match. I got a few 9s for that, but they were the intellectuals."

ITV commentator dismissing Ireland's prospects: "Jack Charlton's team of international misfits."

Ronan Collins: "As they say in football, it's a funny old world."

Looking back, Niall Quinn told of events in the dressing room minutes after Ireland made their exit against Italy. Taoiseach CJ Haughey entered and Londoner Tony Cascarino wondered aloud: "Who the f**k is that?" Quinn hushed him: "Shut-up, it's the Taoiseach." Next, another Anglo, Andy Townsend, asked Cascarino who was the guy in the suit, getting the reply: "Dunno, but he owns a tea-shop."

Widely circulated but never said by Eamon Dunphy, as he flung his biro across the RTÉ studio following a moribund 0-0 draw with Egypt: "I'm ashamed to be Irish."

Later that day, Dunphy recalled: "I was leaving Dublin Airport. One woman called me and took a photograph. I was smiling. As soon as she'd taken the photo she said: 'Ya f***in' bastard'."

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