It's 25 years since David O'Leary scored that penalty for Ireland against Romania at Italia 90
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It's 25 years since David O'Leary scored that penalty for Ireland against Romania at Italia 90

“THIS kick could decide it all. The nation holds its breath…”

Can you believe it’s 25 years today since RTÉ pundit George Hamilton uttered those words just before David O’Leary sent Ireland into a state of euphoria?

A quarter of a century ago, the unlikely figure of Arsenal defender O’Leary stepped up to the spot at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris hoping to capitalise on Packie Bonner’s save from Daniel Timofte.

The London-born player hadn’t enjoyed the happiest of times under Jack Charlton, missing out on Euro 88, but he sealed his place in Irish folkore at Italia 90 when he sent Romanian keeper Silviu Lung the wrong way.

Watch the shootout drama from Ireland v Romania

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The synchronicity of Ireland’s win preceding the country’s economic recovery only adds to the mythological aura that surrounds the memories of that night in Genoa.

Ireland went out to the hosts in the quarter-finals but the team still returned from their first World Cup to a heroes’ welcome, having given us one of our greatest sporting memories.

Ireland: Packie Bonner; Chris Morris, Mick McCarthy (captain), Kevin Moran, Steve Staunton (David O’Leary, 94); Ray Houghton, Paul McGrath, Andy Towsend, Kevin Sheedy; John Aldridge (Tony Cascarino, 22), Niall Quinn

Ireland's penalty takers: Sheedy, Houghton, Townsend, Cascarino, O’Leary

The Ireland team before the game The Ireland team before the game
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Preparing for the penalty shootout Preparing for the penalty shootout

Packie Bonner and David O'Leary during the shootout Packie Bonner and David O'Leary during the shootout

Packie Bonner saves from Daniel Timofte Packie Bonner saves from Daniel Timofte

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O'Leary celebrates his winning penalty O'Leary celebrates his winning penalty

The team celebrate after securing a place in the quarter-finals The team celebrate after securing a place in the quarter-finals

Ireland fans in the Stadio Luigi Ferraris Ireland fans in the Stadio Luigi Ferraris

The Ireland team meet Pope John Paul II ahead of the Italy game The Ireland team meet Pope John Paul II ahead of the Italy game
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Thousands line Dublin's streets to give the squad a heroes' welcome Thousands line Dublin's streets to give the returning squad a heroes' welcome

The players enter Dublin on an open-top bus The players enter Dublin on an open-top bus

What are your memories of Italia 90? Let us know in the comments section below.

Ireland v Romania at Italia 90 – where are they now? Find out here