Wednesday 21 February 2018

Houghton home from World Cup after health scare

Ray Houghton
Ray Houghton
Joyce Fegan

Joyce Fegan

RTE soccer pundit Ray Houghton has had to return home from the World Cup early due to a health scare.

The State broadcaster confirmed last night that Mr Houghton had left Brazil but would not explain why.

"Ray Houghton is on his way home due to personal reasons," said an RTE spokeswoman.

It is understood the former Irish International player experienced a "minor" health scare.

On Saturday night, George Hamilton was the only commentator during the last quarter-final game between Costa Rica and the Netherlands.

Irish fans were left bewildered as George Hamilton had to go it alone on Saturday night without Houghton.

The last quarter-final, which went into extra-time and penalties, saw Hamilton commentate by himself for a full two hours and five minutes.

Neither Mr Hamilton nor the panel in Dublin made any reference to Mr Houghton's absence.

It is understood that Mr Houghton will arrive back in Britain at some point today.

Mr Houghton, who celebrated the 20th anniversary of his 1994 World Cup goal against Italy in the American tournament, had previously said that he was relishing his time in Brazil.

"The World Cup is absolutely exceptional, but you really miss the Irish team – there's no doubt about that," he said two weeks ago. And speaking about that infamous 1994 goal, he admitted that it was not his most memorable one.

"My number-one goal was against England in Euro '88 as it was my first international goal, but the 1994 one against Italy is definitely my second," he said. Mr Hamilton had also said the RTE team had a hectic schedule in Brazil.

He explained that the stadia were located all over the large country meaning long flights were necessary on a near daily basis.

Both commentators had mentioned the high level of humidity in the south American country also.

One day both men spent 13 hours on one plane that had four stop overs as it travelled to one of their destinations.

It is understood that Mr Hamilton will have a replacement for his colleague and not have to go it alone for the remaining matches.

Irish Independent

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