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Memories of 'the Muppets': The six unused members of Ireland's Italia '90 squad tell their story

Six members of Ireland’s Italia ’90 squad came home without having kicked a ball. And there was even a nickname – The Muppets – for the squad players, who turned up every time, but didn’t get to play. Aidan Fitzmaurice hears their stories of joy and disappointment at being bystanders to one of the greatest moments in our football history

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Waiting in vain: The Irish bench watches the opening game against England
anxiously but six members of the squad – Gerry Peyton, Chris Hughton, David
Kelly, Frank Stapleton, Bernie Slaven and John Byrne – wouldn’t see a minute of action in Italy.

Waiting in vain: The Irish bench watches the opening game against England anxiously but six members of the squad – Gerry Peyton, Chris Hughton, David Kelly, Frank Stapleton, Bernie Slaven and John Byrne – wouldn’t see a minute of action in Italy.

Waiting in vain: The Irish bench watches the opening game against England anxiously but six members of the squad – Gerry Peyton, Chris Hughton, David Kelly, Frank Stapleton, Bernie Slaven and John Byrne – wouldn’t see a minute of action in Italy.

What's it like, to go to the biggest show on earth, to go to the most important event of your career … but only watch? To come home with the shirt unworn, the socks still clean.

Six men know the feeling of being there for the most successful time of the Republic of Ireland's international team, when Jack Charlton's side made it to the last eight of the World Cup in 1990, but as witnesses only.

The identity of those six now makes a good question for this era of punishing quizzes. The answer is: Gerry Peyton, Chris Hughton, David Kelly, Frank Stapleton, Bernie Slaven and John Byrne. They have something strong in common but, like any group of adults, have different memories and interpretations.


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