Tuesday 16 January 2018

Picture perfect...John Aldridge shares memories and a glorious image of Ireland's Italia'90 World Cup squad

What an image....Jack Charlton's Italian'90 boys soaking up the sun during their World Cup adventure
What an image....Jack Charlton's Italian'90 boys soaking up the sun during their World Cup adventure
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Ireland goal scoring great John Aldridge has retweeted a snap shot of the glorious summer of 1990, when our Boys in Green plotted a route through to the World Cup quarter finals.

This nation was gripped by Ireland's first appearance in the biggest soccer show of them all, with the tales of the antics the Ireland players took part in the stuff of sporting folklore.

Aldo has told us that Charlton's squad were focused on the task in hand in a summer when they created some of the greatest moments in Irish soccer history, met The Pope and were only halted by hosts Italy in a memorable quarter-final in Rome.

"Amid it all was the craic that made playing for Ireland so special," Aldo tells us, after he retweeted an image from @irish_pics.

"The fun we had as a group of players and the relationship we had with the supporters so very different to that experienced by England players.

"I remember talking to some of the England international players around that time and they were envious of the fun we used to have on Ireland trips, the freedom we enjoyed compared to their high intensity high pressure world.

"Of course, there was pressure on us to succeed as Ireland players and the biggest pressure came from within our own dressing room, but the joy we got every time we met up made it an experience none of us would ever miss.

"Players opt out of international matches these days with minor injury problems, but we had lads who would skip a club game so that they could fly over early for Ireland matches and make the most of the atmosphere our success was creating. They were special times.

"There were occasions when we went overboard and the drinking sessions went on a bit too long. We may well have qualified for Euro’96 if we had a little bit more discipline ahead of a crucial qualifier against Austria in Dublin, but I would not change too many things about my Ireland career.

"It’s ironic that my time in football is notable for the amount of goals I scored, yet I would argue that some of my happiest memories come from my time playing for the one team that didn’t get the best of me in front of goal.

"I wish my international scoring record was a little better, but the way the team was set up did not give me the sort of service I thrived upon at club level and there were times when my lack of international goals got me down.

"Despite it all, when I reflect on my finest days as a player, I look at Stuttgart in 1988, Rome in 1990 and the 1984 World Cup as being up there in my cherished memories. Along with the friendships and good times I had during my Ireland career.

"Playing for Liverpool was my boyhood dream, but I can honestly say that pulling on that green Ireland shirt meant just as much to me."

Here's hoping for a fresh set of Irish soccer memories in next summer's World Cup finals in Russia.

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