Friday 23 August 2019

€1.2m prize, a baby born in extra-time and a special call from Jose Mourinho - Dundalk's night to remember

Dundalk manager Vinny Perth received a call from Jose Mourinho after tonight's game.
Dundalk manager Vinny Perth received a call from Jose Mourinho after tonight's game.
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Dundalk boss Vinny Perth's night of joy in Riga took a surreal twist when he received a call of congratulations from Jose Mourinho in the minutes after their penalty shootout win.

Mourinho is friends with Andy Burton, the former Sky Sports reporter who is now heavily involved with Dundalk through a connection with their American owners.

And as Perth came back down to earth following a dramatic Champions League success over their Latvian hosts, Burton called him over to say there was someone who wanted to have a word.

Read more: Dundalk star Duffy's partner gives birth during extra time - then midfielder watches penalty drama on his phone!

He was shown a phone with a familiar presence on the screen and a Facetime chat with Mourinho followed. The 56-year-old told Perth to 'keep on going' with their European campaign.

Dundalk will face Azerbaijan champions Qarabag in the next stage and will go into the third round of the Europa League qualifiers if that stiff tasks proves to be beyond them.

"Jose just rang, I was a bit emotional and then that added to it because he's a hero of mine," said Perth.

"I know people question what he has done in the last couple of years but for me he has always been a hero so for him to ring and congratulate me was a surreal moment, a weird moment.

"We felt pressure tonight as a staff. Not from the club, but from ourselves. It was a real special moment."

Dundalk were taken over by new ownership at the end of 2017 with Peak6 targeting success in Europe.

The company's co-founder Matt Hulsizer travelled to Ireland for last week's first leg of a tie that ultimately finished scoreless after 210 minutes, before the thrilling shootout that sent the Irish champions through.

Amid all the drama, it was announced that Dundalk winger Michael Duffy - who stayed behind for the imminent birth of his child - announced that his partner Emily had given birth to a baby boy during extra-time of last night's game.

Dundalk's progress will earn them at least €1.2m in UEFA prize money as they prepare to face the Azerbaijani champions Qarabag at Oriel Park next week.

Should they progress, further riches await, but the blow of a possible defeat will be softened by the fact that the Louth club will be parachuted into the qualifying round for the Europa League.

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