Irate Aldo refutes phoney Irish claim
WITH a passion that was his hallmark in the green jersey, John Aldridge last night emphatically refuted claims that he was never eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland.
A Sunday newspaper article claimed that Aldo, who scored 19 goals in 69 internationals, should not have been allowed play for Ireland as he wasn't naturalised until 1996.
"This story is totally unfounded. I'm checking my legal position as I'm not having anyone defaming my name and reputation," said an emotive Aldo.
Aldo was one of the last English-born players to play for Ireland through a great-grandparent, in his case, Mary Mills from Athlone.
Michael Robinson, capped between 1981 and 1986, also took this route to the green jersey.
"I completed all the paperwork required before I made my debut against Wales in 1986. I passed the documents on to the FAI, they okayed it. So too did UEFA and FIFA.
"Without a shadow of doubt, I was 100 per cent qualified when I played for Ireland.
"Jack (Charlton) was very thorough and wouldn't have picked me unless he'd got the go ahead from the FAI, which he had," said Aldo.
The current Tranmere Rovers' manager was one of several players who didn't have an Irish passport during the glory days under Jack Charlton.
"We didn't need one at the time. It wasn't until much later that FIFA made it compulsory and I got one. I should have done it earlier but it was never a necessity until 1996."
Aldo had "no doubts whatsoever" he would have got a passport if required prior to '96.
It's been claimed that Aldo needed his mother to be registered on the Foreign Births Register and for her to have secured an Irish passport. "That's a technicality. I was always okay," he said.
Aldo's stance was backed up by FAI Chief Executive Bernard O'Byrne.
"John Aldridge always stated he was eligible. I agree with that. It was always accepted by FIFA and the FAI. As far as we're concerned, there are no question marks in relation to his eligibility," said O'Byrne.
"The call I got on Saturday was the first time John Aldridge was mentioned to me. We haven't looked at his file and I don't think we'll be doing so."
"I would be more familiar with '96 onwards than before. I don't know what the in-house practices were prior to that.
"But I can't see a scenario where people were deliberately lax. Without a thorough investigation I can't say for sure," he added.
On the suggestion of Aldo's belated naturalisation, O'Byrne said: "Since 1964, if you were eligible for citizenship, you were eligible to play. You didn't actually have to take out citizenship," he explained.
O'Byrne felt the former star had been unwittingly caught in the crossfire of the Tony Cascarino affair.
"One of the regrettable side shows of the Tony Cascarino affair is that others have been dragged in. That's unfair."
"There's a sort of parlour game going on to find a fake Irishman. I'm not going to get involved in a game of 'spot the plastic paddy'."