Saturday 7 December 2019

Ireland’s first World Cup team – where are they now?

The Ireland team that faced England in Cagliari on June 11th 1990
The Ireland team that faced England in Cagliari on June 11th 1990


It is now closing in on 24 years since that famous day in Cagliari when Ireland and England played out a 1-1 draw.

It couldn’t have been scripted any better. After qualifying for the World Cup Finals for the first time, it was the perfect opening game,  pitted against neighbours England in what would be one of the tightest of groups.

35,238 spectators were at the Stadio Sant’ Elia to watch the game unfold while the country came to a standstill to see how ‘Jackie Charlton’s Army’ would fare out against the old enemy.

A draw was the outcome, as were five of the six games in the group and here is what became of the men from that famous day in Italy.

Packie Bonner

Bonner would etch his place into Irish folklore with that never-to-be-forgotten penalty save from Daniel Timofte in the second-round penalty shoot-out.

The Donegal man retired from international football in 1996 with 80 caps and after working as a technical director for the FAI for a number of years, now can be found working as a pundit.

Chris Morris

The full-back was the only Irish player to get booked on the night. In a six-year international career Morris earned 35 caps for Ireland and retired from football in 1997 at Middlesbrough.

Post-retirment, Morris went back to Cornwall to work for the family business  of Morris Cornish Pasties. And also a coach for the local college football team.

Mick McCarthy

‘Captain Fantastic’ was the leader of the team, before calling time on his playing days two years later. Led Ireland to the World Cup in 2002 and is currently the manager of Ipswich Town having taken over the reins in 2012.

Kevin Moran

Moran formed an impressive partnership with McCarthy at the hear of the defence and joined Blackburn Rovers that summer after two years with Sporting Gijon. Named in the 1994 squad but never played because of injury, he retired from the game that year with 71 caps.

Following retirement, Moran formed a football agency Proactive Sports Management with Paul Stretford and Jesper Olsen and also works as a pundit.

Steve Staunton

The only player to have played in all 13 of Ireland’s World Cup games of 1990, 1994 and 2002, announcing his retirement following the penalty-defeat to Spain in South Korea.

After Brian Kerr left as Ireland manager in 2006, Staunton was surprisingly chosen as his successor, with Bobby Robson supporting him as an international consultant.

A win over Sweden was as good as it got, with just six wins in 17 games and a last-gasp victory over San Marino, he was dismissed in October 2007.

A managerial stint at Darlington was unsuccessful and was let go as Sunderland scout when Paolo Di Canio rung the changes at the club last summer.

Ray Houghton

Scorer of some of Ireland’s most memorable goals (winners against England in Euro 88 and Italy in USA 94), Houghton was a key cog in the hard-working Irish midfield.

Ray Houghton

The Scottish-born midfielder retired following the World Cup 98 play-off defeat to Belgium with 73 caps for the Boys in Green. Used by a number of media outlets as a pundit.

Paul McGrath

A fans favourite and one of the finest players to ever pull on an Irish jersey.

Anchored the midfield in Italia 90 and starred at the heart of the defence four years later in the US, with his performance against Italy in particular regarded as one of the best of all-time.

Has struggled with alcohol issues, particularly post-retirement. Involved with charity and fund-raising activities

Andy Townsend

Maidstone-born Townsend made his international bow in 1989 and would captain Ireland in USA 94, retiring three years later with 70 caps.

Central to the Charlton "put ‘em under pressure" game plan, the central midfielder played for Southampton, Norwich, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and finally West Brom.

Now a leading pundit with ITV Sport.

Kevin Sheedy

Sheedy’s strike was not only another World Cup first, but a timely strike, with a little over fifteen minutes remaining and Ireland trailing to a Gary Lineker goal. Sheedy played for Ireland for nine years, earning 46 caps.

Kevin Sheedy

After 314 appearances for Everton, Sheedy rejoined the club as an Academy coach in 2006. In August 2012 it was revealed the World Cup hero had bowel cancer, with a history of the disease in the family.

John Aldridge

Aldridge scored 19 goals in his 10 years for Ireland, often performing a role very much different from what he was accustomed to for his respective clubs. The striker started and was substituted in all five games and had a goal disallowed against Holland.

Aldridge manager Tranmere for five years, leading the club to successive FA Cup quarter-finals before resigning in 2001 and is now a football  pundit and a regular contributor to LFC TV.

Tony Cascarino

Like his strike partner on the night, Cascarino too hit 19 goals in an Irish career that spanned 14 years and ending in the volatile Euro 2000 play-off defeat to Turkey. Following retirement he became a semi-professional poker player and is a regular pundit for TalkSport, Today FM, Sky Sports and writes a weekly newspaper column.


Alan McLoughlin

Best known for the goal that clinched qualification for USA 94 with an equalising goal in Windsor Park, McLoughlin made his debut in 1990 and was chosen in Charlton’s World Cup squad.

Alan McLoughlin celebrates in Windsor Park in 1993

The only Irish sub on the night, he retired in 1999 with 42 caps and just one other goals than the wonder strike against Northern Ireland.

A BBC Solent match-day co-commentator for Portsmouth games, McLoughlin joined the Pompey coaching set-up in three years ago.


David O’Leary

Would score the all-important penalty against Romania in the second-round shoot-out, but was regularly overlooked by Charlton.

Managed Leeds to the Champions League before the club went into meltdown, with subsequent stints at Aston Villa and Al Ahli in the United Arab Emirates.

He is an occasional TV pundit for Al Jazeera’s Premier League coverage and has also done some pundit work for BT Sport’s Premier League coverage.

Chris Hughton

The son of an Irish mother and a Ghanaian father, Hughton became the first mixed-race player to play for Ireland when he made his debut in 1979, winning 53 caps before his retirement in 1991.

After 10 years as a Tottenham assistant, Hughton has had spells in charge of Newcastle United, Birmingham City and most recently Norwich City. Has been linked to the vacancy at West Bromwich Albion.

Niall Quinn

Until Robbie Keane’s exploits, Quinn was Ireland’s all-time highest goal scorer and found the net against Holland in the group stages, Ireland’s only other goal from play in Italy.

Niall Quinn

A former manager and chairman of Sunderland, Quinn has a number of business ventures, including the broadband supplier Q-Sat and Niall Quinn Media Services. A regular pundit on Sky Sports.

Gerry Peyton

Packie Bonner’s understudy won 33 caps between 1977 and 1992.

Peyton had a long career as a goalkeeper for several clubs in the English divisions, most notably Bournemouth and Fulham and worked as a goalkeeping coach in Japan and Sweden before taking up a similar role at Arsenal in 2003 where he remains today.

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