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People still buy me pints 25 years after goal – Ray

NELSON Mandela was still in prison, Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five were riding high in the charts, Charlie Haughey was Taoiseach ... and Ray Houghton put the ball in the English net.

It was 25 years ago today that Ireland debuted in their first major soccer tournament and still people are buying Houghton pints to thank him for that memorable night in Stuttgart.

"It was actually my first goal for Ireland and it's something you never forget," he said today.

His flashback came after Giovanni Trapatonni's side went down 2-0 to world champions Spain last night in New York.

Houghton (51) said that his only wish for that night during Euro '88 was that he could have been in Dublin to see the reaction.

"Obviously you want to be at the grounds to celebrate the victory but the other part would like to have been back in Ireland with the fans. When we saw the pictures at home, everywhere was crazy, that was a delight."

"Even now when I go back to Ireland people come out and say 'thank you'," he told Miriam O'Callaghan on RTE Radio.

"I do get bought pints, I won't say as regular as I once did, but I do."

He told how Jack Charlton gave him less than 24 hours to decide if he wanted to play for Ireland as his dad was a Donegal man.

"He rang me the next morning. It was the best decision I ever made," said Houghton.