“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
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
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