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Who starts in midfield in Ireland's greatest team of the last 40 years?

This week Independent.ie unveil who our writers believe is Ireland's greatest team of the modern era. Today we take a look at the make-up of the midfield.

While we have been blessed with some outstanding midfielders over the past five decades, there was almost collective agreement on four players across the board. Two players were unanimous decisions with all our writers, while the other two were streets ahead of their nearest challengers.

Damien Duff, Ronnie Whelan and were other contenders, while Gerry Daly received one vote of confidence, but it wasn't enough for force their way onto the side.

Roy Keane and Liam Brady were names on every selection. Keane, the current Republic of Ireland assistant manager, had many highs and lows as an international player and aside from the famous Saipan walk-out, will be best remembered for his dominating displays in the middle of the pitch, with the performance against Holland en route to qualifying for the 2002 World Cup often held as a reference point.

The Cork man scored nine goals in 67 appearances during his 14 years in a green jersey.

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Former Manchester United skipper Roy Keane, pictured, has backed new manager Louis van Gaal to revive the club's fortunes

Former Manchester United skipper Roy Keane, pictured, has backed new manager Louis van Gaal to revive the club's fortunes

Former Manchester United skipper Roy Keane, pictured, has backed new manager Louis van Gaal to revive the club's fortunes

 

Alongside Keane is another Irish legend in Liam Brady. The Dubliner made his debut 40 years ago against the Soviet Union and is regarded as one of the most gifted players to ever set foot on Lansdowne Road. He notched 9 goals in 74 appearances and has always maintained his favourite was the winner in a 1-0 victory over Brazil in 1987.

Injury and suspension meant he played no part in Euro 88, while he also didn't feature in Italy two years later.

John Giles was another popular choice, even allowing for the fact that his playing career came to an end in 1979, 20 years after his first international match. The former Leeds and Man United midfielder was a star in a team that often struggled and commanded widespread respect from his peers.

The FAI voted Giles as the greatest Irish player of the last 50 years at the UEFA Jubilee Awards in 2004 and two years later he was chosen by Leeds supporters at Elland Road as a member of the best ever Leeds United XI.

The final midfield spot went to a player who scored two of the most memorable and iconic Irish goals of all-time. Scottish born, Ray Houghton was selected by Jack Charlton in his first game in charge, a 1-0 defeat to Wales in 1987.

The following year, his looping header sent shock waves through European football as Ireland defeated England at the 1988 European Championships. Six years later in the Giants Stadium, his goal was enough to claim three points against an Italian side that would contest the World Cup Final against Brazil.

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The skillful midfielder's final appearance was as a substitute in the 1998 World Cup play-off match with Belgium in Brussels and represented Ireland 73 times scoring 6 goals.

Find out tomorrow who starts up front in the greatest Ireland of the past 40 years.

Online Editors