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Who makes the cut in a combined Ireland XI from the Italia '90 and USA '94 World Cups?

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The Republic of Ireland squad in Italy 1990. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

The Republic of Ireland squad in Italy 1990. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

The Republic of Ireland squad in Italy 1990. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Whether in sport or music, 'best ofs' are often regarded as the equivalent to marmite.

However, love them or hate them, we sometimes can't resist compiling greatest hits of some sort or other, if only for the purpose of sparking debate on the chosen subject.

As TG4 prepare to bring us on a trip down memory lane on Friday evening by showing the first of Ireland's famous Italia '90 adventure, namely the opening World Cup clash with England in Cagliari, I've decided upon a team - a 'best of' - from both the 1990 and 1994 World Cups.

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The Republic of Ireland football team who played the England in the World Cup Italia '90

The Republic of Ireland football team who played the England in the World Cup Italia '90

The Republic of Ireland football team who played the England in the World Cup Italia '90

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Riddled with top class talent, this team would be a match for any in their heyday. It is also a reminder of the star-studded players manager Jack Charlton had at his disposal during those glory days.

Seeing as Charlton had a wealth of midfield talent to choose from, I've decided on a 4-5-1 formation.

So here goes, the combined Ireland Italia '90 and USA '94 eleven:

GOALKEEPER

Packie Bonner: The legendary Celtic goalkeeper was a star of Italia 90, and less so at the 1994 World Cup, but fully deserves the Number 1 jersey.

DEFENCE

Denis Irwin: The Corkman rose to prominence in the early 1990s with Manchester United, and by 1994 was firmly established at right-full in Charlton's Irish side, displacing Chris Morris who was the first-choice right-back in 1990.

Terry Phelan: A soldier of both campaigns, the lightning fast Phelan was a consistent performer in the green shirt.

David O'Leary: Brought in from the cold by Charlton, O'Leary repaid him in spades, notching the winning penalty in the second round shoot-out against Romania to set up that famous quarter-final against Italy in Rome.

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 The Republic of Ireland team who defeated Italy 1-0 at the 1994 World Cup at Giants Stadium, New Jersey, USA. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

The Republic of Ireland team who defeated Italy 1-0 at the 1994 World Cup at Giants Stadium, New Jersey, USA. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

The Republic of Ireland team who defeated Italy 1-0 at the 1994 World Cup at Giants Stadium, New Jersey, USA. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Paul McGrath: While often used as a midfielder by Charlton, McGrath was superb for Ireland at centre-back, particularly in the 1994 opening win against Italy.

MIDFIELD

Roy Keane: With one season at Manchester United under his belt by the time he reached the 1994 World Cup, Keane was fast proving himself to be one of Europe's most commanding midfielders.

Andy Townsend: Another survivor of Italia 90, Townsend captained Ireland at USA 94 and was a brilliant midfielder in his day.

Ray Houghton: The Paisley-born midfielder was one of Charlton's best performers and his winning goal against Italy at the Giants Stadium in 1994, capped a magnificent Ireland career.

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The Republic of Ireland squad in Italy 1990. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

The Republic of Ireland squad in Italy 1990. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

The Republic of Ireland squad in Italy 1990. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Steve Staunton: 'Stan' was ever-reliable at club level as he was for Ireland and possessed a thunderous left foot. Like McGrath, Charlton often deployed him in midfield.

Kevin Sheedy: Who put the ball in the English net? Sheedy's stunning late equaliser against England in 1990 sent the nation wild, and teed up that famous journey to Rome.

STRIKER

John Aldridge: A stunningly-good goal-poacher at Liverpool, Aldridge found goals harder to come by at international level. However, he proved a handful for opposing teams, and stuck it to the Mexicans in the second game of World Cup 1994, coming on as a substitute and scoring with a header after a famous touchline row with an official.

Substitutes: Alan Kelly, Mick McCarthy, Kevin Moran, Jason McAteer, John Sheridan, Tony Cascarino.

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Republic of Ireland's Ray Houghton shoots to score his side's first goal. 1994 World Cup, Pool E, Republic of Ireland v Italy, The Giants Stadium, New Jersey, USA. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Republic of Ireland's Ray Houghton shoots to score his side's first goal. 1994 World Cup, Pool E, Republic of Ireland v Italy, The Giants Stadium, New Jersey, USA. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Republic of Ireland's Ray Houghton shoots to score his side's first goal. 1994 World Cup, Pool E, Republic of Ireland v Italy, The Giants Stadium, New Jersey, USA. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

The first match in TG4's series will be broadcast this Friday at 7.30pm and will feature Ireland v England from the Italia ’90 World Cup.

Viewers will be able to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane and see how Charlton’s squad progressed in the country's maiden World Cup voyage.

Other matches in the World Cup Gold series includes Ireland v Italy (USA 1994 FIFA World Cup), Argentina’s matches against England and West Germany in the 1986 Mexico FIFA World Cup.

World Cup Gold will be broadcast on TG4 every Friday evening at 7.30pm.

Online Editors