Sunday 15 September 2019

'Everything changed after we beat England, it was the turning point'

Kevin Sheedy, left, and Tony Galvin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Kevin Sheedy, left, and Tony Galvin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

John Fallon

He might easily have become a spy-catcher but Tony Galvin instead put his intelligence to use on the pitch and still gets protective when his adopted country is questioned.

The winger was born, raised and steeped in the Yorkshire town of Huddersfield, representing his native England at schoolboy level, before Eoin Hand discovered his Limerick roots through Chris Hughton, a club mate at Tottenham Hotspur.

His highlight was Euro '88, starting all three games in Germany, hooking the cross that led to Ray Houghton's winner against England and enjoying what he still says was the best game of his 29 caps in the draw with Russia.

Ah, Russia. Jack Charlton availed of Galvin's fluency of the language by allowing his flanker to eavesdrop on their set-piece plans.

He might have taken up the profession permanently had legendary Spurs manager, Bill Nicholson, working then as their chief scout, not spotted him featuring for non-league Burton in 1978. He was 23 when he made his Spurs debut a year later.

"I studied Russian and politics at Hull University," he explains. "It had been a growth industry in the 1960s and 1970s due to the Cold War. My most likely career path was going into the GCHQ (General Communications Headquarters) in Cheltenham.

"A couple of my class went that way through the Civil Service but they couldn't talk about it. They had to sign a vow of confidentiality."

There was nothing underhanded about Galvin's progress though, as his two FA Cup and UEFA Cup medals complemented by his surge for Ireland. How ironic it was then that he had the last laugh on the winger who replaced him at White Hart Lane when they crossed paths in Stuttgart.

Galvin was even more delighted at the end of the 1-0 win for Hughton.

"England had that superiority complex, even their players at Spurs used to look down at us," outlined the 62-year-old, in Dublin last night for another reunion of the squad.

"I had got a lot of abuse in the warm-up from England fans calling me a traitor but then Chris (Waddle) just looked at me in the line-up and laughed.

"He was saying 'what the f**k are you doing there?' and 'we're going to beat you'.

"When Ireland used to get stitched up by referees, like the World Cup qualifier in Belgium in 1981, Chris (Hughton) used to get annoyed that we were seen as gallant losers. Everything changed after beating England, that was the turning point."

30 years on Galvin still feels proud to be Irish. It irritates him to hear Christen Eriksen, his favourite current Spurs player, categorise Ireland as a team unwilling to attack and believes Declan Rice is making a big mistake if he jumps ship to England.

"Eriksen just wanted us to open up in the Nations League games (both finished scoreless) so he can attack and score more goals like he did in the World Cup play-off," noted Galvin. "Again it smacked of arrogance towards Ireland."

Irish Independent

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