RTE's George Hamilton: Packie Bonner and David O'Leary soaked my Hawaiian shirt with flat champagne after victory against Romania in Italia 90
Published 25/06/2015 | 17:31
RTE broadcaster George Hamilton has recalled the moment a nation "held it's breath" as David O'Leary stepped up to take his penalty against Romania in Italia 90.
Speaking on RTE Radio One programme 'Drivetime' this evening, Hamilton also remembered how goalkeeper Packie Bonner and David O'Leary soaked his Hawaiian shirt with "flat champagne" after the match.
David O'Leary wasn't a "recognised penalty taker", he said.
"The story has gone into folklore as well about David O'Leary's wife being in the garden... I don't know hanging out the washing or something and the youngster comes out and says 'quick quick quick, dad's about to take a penalty'.
"It was a surprise in the O'Leary household as much as anywhere else," he said.
"But it was just in the moment he stepped forward, said this is my moment I'm going to to do it, and he did. It was a surprise because he wasn't part of the plan should we say."
Just before O'Leary struck the ball, Hamilton famously quipped "a nation holds it's breath".
"It wasn't written down because I don't believe in that because when you start writing down you lose the spontaneity and it's the spontaneity
"If all you're doing is reading a script, you're never going to be able to ride the emotion of the occasion.
Read more here: The Heroes of Italia 90 - Where are they now?
"What happened was during extra time, the match having kicked off in the afternoon, and took it into news time. The Six One News was on on RTE One and we were on... the second TV channel anyway. I got word in my ear to say because it was now so dramatic, that the RTE One Six One News was showing our pictures.
"And the thought just flashed into my head as I noted this message that nobody in Ireland who was watching TV was watching anything other than this.
"And then when it came to that absolutely crucial moment, there was nothing else to say because if anybody was watching television, this is what they were watching. So the nation held it's breath. It was simple."
"All hell broke loose" afterwards with players embracing each other on the pitch, and pandemonium in the commentary box.
According to Hamilton, Hawaiian shirts were all the rage at the time and he was wearing one during the commentary.
He also recalled how there was a bottle of champagne kept under their chair in the box, which had gone flat due to the sweltering heat. It didn't taste too good, he added.
He met with Bonner and O'Leary for an interview after the match.
He then gave the pair a plastic cup with champagne.
"So they tipped it over my head live on the air, and my poor Hawaiian shirt was soaked," he said.