Ray flies home from Rio
in World Cup health scare

By Joyce Fegan

Ray Houghton has had to leave the World Cup because of a health scare.

The RTE soccer pundit was understood to be on his way home last night following a "minor" health scare.

"He's fine but he did have a minor health scare. It's not serious," a source said.

RTE confirmed last night to The Herald that Mr Houghton had left Brazil but would not explain why.

"Ray Houghton is on his way home due to personal reasons," said a spokeswoman from the national broadcaster.

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 the former Irish international was flying last night when The Herald attempted to make contact with him.

Mr Houghton, who celebrated the 20th anniversary of his 1994 World Cup goal against Italy in the American tournament, had previously told The Herald 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 told The Herald that 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.