Sunday, December 14, 2014

Republic of Ireland/Northern Ireland Combined Greatest All-Time team

This blogger Artur Yanturin of Russia copied many of my blog teams.  This blog was one of them.  It was my Russia All-Time Team here.  His team was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.   This entry of his was written in October 21, 2020, but mine was uploaded in a few weeks before his 2020.   Another entry of his was written in October 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2017.  His entry of the Dutch-German rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.  He also copied many many of my blog entries.

Ireland vs Northern Ireland 1978
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.  

I have also create all-time teams for both Ireland and Northern Ireland.  My all-time team for the United kingdom is here

English-born players capped by other national teams Ireland/Northern Ireland Combined Team 1986 World Cup

From 1882 to 1950, the name Ireland national team was used by the Irish Football Association (IFA).  It consisted of players from the entire Ireland.  After the partition of Ireland in the 1920s, another team was organized by Football Association of Ireland (FAI). They also competed with the name Ireland from 1937 and 1952.  So two different team was playing as Ireland in the period and some players were playing for both teams.  In 1953, the FAI was officially recognized as Ireland while the national team by IFA became Northern Ireland.  Due to the complexity of Irish question, players who played for any of the Ireland national team are eligible to be on this team.

I do not know enough about Irish politics and the football world to see if it is possible to have a combined team for the Island of Ireland, but George Best famously called for an unified team throughout his career.  Meanwhile, Irish Rugby Football Union and Hockey Ireland have created combined national teams for their sports without any problem. 
N.Ireland vs Ireland
This is my selection of  the Republic of Ireland/Northern Ireland Combined team.   If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.  

GK: Pat Jennings (N.Ireland)
Considered among the greatest goalkeeper of all-time.  The prime of his career was spent with both Tottenham Hotspurs and Arsenal.  In 1973 the Football Writers' Association named him as its footballer of the year. Three years later he won PFA's version of the award – he was the first goalkeeper to receive this accolade, and to this date remains only one of two, along with Peter Shilton. He earned 119 caps for Northern Ireland and went to two WC Finals. 
Pat Jennings
GK: Shay Given (Republic)
Shay Given started his career with Celtic in Scotland, but made his professional debut with Blackburn Rovers.  He was remembered for playing with Newcastle United from 1997 to 2009.  He was voted into PFA Team of the Year twice, 2001-2002 and 2005-2006.  He later played for Manchester City, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough F.C. and Stoke.  He earned 126 caps for Ireland. He played in the 2002 World Cup Finals and the European Championship in 2010 and 2016.

GK: Elisha Scott (N.Ireland)
Scott played 31 times for Ireland (IFA).  He played for Liverpool from 1912 to 1934 and he remains as the longest-serving goalkeeper for Liverpool.  His career was interrupted by the First World War. He won two English Championships with them. He was known for his rivalry with Everton's Dixie Dean. He also played with Belfast Celtic and Linfield.

RB: Billy McCracken (N.Ireland) 
Billy McCracken was one of the most successful defender of his time.  McCracken played for the English club Newcastle United from 1904 to 1924, helping them win three League titles and the FA Cup. He was known for setting the offside trap for the attackers.  The offside rule was changed because of him. 

RB: John Carey (Republic/N.Ireland) 
He was also a dual internationalist, playing for and captaining both Ireland teams – the FAI XI and the IFA XI.  In 1949, he was voted the FWA Footballer of the Year and in the same year captained the FAI XI that defeated England, becoming the first non-UK team to beat England at home.   As a player Carey spent most of his career at Manchester United, where he was team captain from 1946 until he retired as a player in 1953. 

CB/DM: Paul McGrath (Republic) 
Paul McGrath is one of Ireland's greatest ever players.  He played 83 times for Ireland. He appeared at the 1990 and 1994 World Cup Finals, as well as the Euro 1988.  He played for St Patrick's Athletic and then, joined Manchester United in 1982.  He had a run-in with Sir Alex who was the new manager at Manchester United and moved to Aston Villa in 1989 where he won the PFA Player of the Year in 1993. He later played for Derby County and Sheffield United.
Paul McGarth
LB/CB: Mark Lawrenson (Republic)
Mark Lawrenson was a key defender for Liverpool in the 1980's, where he won one European Cup and 5 league titles. At the international level, he played for Ireland between 1977 and 1987.  He helped Ireland to qualify for its first ever major tournament in 1988, but an injury prevented him from going to Euro 1988. Ireland went on to qualify for the next four tournaments, biut he already retired by then.

CB: David O’Leary (Republic) 
David O'Leary made a record of 722 appearance for Arsenal.  For Arsenal, he won the English League, FA Cup and the League Cup, two of each.  He also played briefly with Leeds United at the end of his career. With 68 caps, he represented Ireland at the World Cup Finals in 1990, scoring the winning penalty against Romania in the penalty shootout.
CB: Richard Dunne (Republic)
Richard Dunne was capped 80 times between 2000 and 2013.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 2002, but did not play.  He played at Euro 2012.  For his club career,  he spent ten years with Manchester City. He moved to Aston Villa in 2009 and then, Queens Park Rangers in 2013.  He won Manchester City's Player of the Year award 4 straight times from 2004 to 2008, first player to win it 4 times.
LB/RB: Denis Irwin (Republic)
Alex Ferguson considered him his greatest ever signing.  He played over 200 games for Manchester United, winning the Champions' League in 1999 and 7 Premiership titles. He also played for Leeds United and Oldham Athletic, and finished his career with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Irwin was capped by the Republic of Ireland national side 56 times, scoring four goals and featuring in the side that reached the second round (last 16) at the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
Denis Irwin 
LB: Alf McMichael (N.Ireland)
Belfast-born McMichael began his career at Linfield, before signing for Newcastle United in 1949. He remained at Newcastle until 1962, appearing 433 times. He was part of the team that won the 1952 FA Cup Final. At one point he was considered the best left-back in Britain and was a popular player amongst Newcastle United supporters. He represented Northern Ireland 40 times.

CM/DM: Roy Keane (Republic)
Roy Keane was the captain of Manchester United from 1997 to 2005, where he won one Champions' League, 7 Preimer League titles and 4 FA Cups.  He was the PWA Player of the Year in 2000.  At the international level, he had 67 caps.  He played for Ireland at the 1994 World Cup Finals in the USA, but was sent home 4 years later before the start of the World Cup Finals in 2002. He later played for Celtic in Scotland after leaving Manchester United.
Roy Keane 
CM/M: Johnny Giles (Republic)
Giles started with Manchester United in 1957.  After winning an FA Cup winner's medal under Matt Busby, he moved to Leeds United in 1963 where he played in midfield alongside Billy Bremner under Manager Don Revie. He also played for West Bromwich Albion, where he was the player-manager. He was voted as Ireland's greatest player at the UEFA Jubilee Awards in 2004.  He was capped 59 times.  From 1973 onward, he served as their player-manager.

CM/AM:  Danny Blanchflower (N.Ireland)
Danny Blanchflower  won the Double in 1961 with Tottenham Hotspurs.  He won the FA Cup the following year, and then, a Cup Winners' Cup in 1963.  He was the PWA Player of the Year in 1958 and 1961. He also played for Aston Villa and Barnsley before joining Hotspurs. He went to the World Cup in 1958, where North Ireland reached the quarterfinal.

LM/CM: Ronnie Whelan (Republic)
Ronnie Whelan played for the mighty Liverpool during the 1980's.  He won one European Cup and 6 league titles.  Whelan played for the Republic of Ireland national football team at one UEFA European Football Championship (1988) and two World Cups (1990 and 1994), turning out a total of 53 times for the national side between 1981 and 1995.
LW/RW: George Best (N.Ireland)
George Best was considered to be one of the greatest players ever played the game.  He was voted #19 as the greatest European player by the UEFA Jublilee Poll. He was known for his "pop star" lifestyle. He was one of the "United's Trinity" that helped Manchester United to their first (and also first ever for an English club) European Cup in 1968.  He won the PWA PLayer of the Year award and the Ballon d'Or that year.
George Best
RW: Billy Bingham (N.Ireland) 
Billy Bingham was a childhood friend of Jackie Branchflower. He was at one point the cap record holder for Norther Ireland. He helped them to qualify for Sweden 1958, where North Ireland reached the quarter-final.  He won a league title with Everton in 1963. His longest stint was with Sunderland, where he spent 8 years.  He also had a lengthy career with Luton Town.

LW/AM: Liam Brady (Republic)
Liam Brady played over 200 times for Arsenal in the 1980's.  He was the PWA Player of the Year in 1979.  He was one of the few successful Irish players playing outside the UK.  In 1980, he moved to Juventus, where he won two Series A titles in two seasons.  He was replaced by Michel Platini, but he went on to play for Inter Milan and Ascoli in Italy. He made 72 caps for Ireland, but he never went to a major tournament.
 Liam Brady 

RW/FW: Patsy Gallacher (N.Ireland/Republic)
Patsy Gallacher was nicknamed "Mighty Atom".   He was considered one of the greatest Celtic's players ever.  The 1925 Scottish FA Cup Final was called "the Patsy Gallacher" final after he scored a somersault goal. He played for Falkirk at the end of his career. He played 12 times for IFA (now called Northern Ireland) and one time for FAI (Republic of Ireland) in a game against Spain at the age of 41, the oldest ever debutant for their team.

CF: Joe Bambrick (N.Ireland)
Bambrick began his career with Glentoran, before moving to Belfast rivals Linfield in 1927. He scored a total of 286 league goals in just 183 games. From 1935 to 1938, he played for Chelsea.  Bambrick scored 12 goals in 11 games for Ireland (IFA), including six in one game against Wales. His goal tally ensures that he still ranks as the joint-fourth highest goalscorer for the Northern Ireland national side.

ST: Robbie Keane (Republic) 
Robbie Keane is the all-time leading scorer and cap record holder for Ireland.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 2002, and participated at Eyuro 2012 and 2016.  He had played in Italy, Scotland, England, and the USA. Most of his stints were short, including a dream move to Inter Milan.  His most famous stints was with Tottenham Hotspurs, where he won the League Cup in 2008.  At the end of his career, he played in the MLS with LA Galaxy alongside Landon Donovan and David Beckham.

Robbie Keane vs Northern Ireland
ST: Frank Stapleton (Ireland) 
Frank Stapleton was Ireland's all-time leading scorer for a decade.  He had 71 caps and captained Ireland at the Euro 1988, Ireland's first major tournament. He is best remembered for his time at Arsenal and Manchester United, where he won a single FA Cup for both clubs. He also played in Holland, Belgium and France after he left Manchester United.

ST:  John Aldridge (Ireland)
John Aldridge is still the 6th highest goal scorer in the history of English football.  He was best remembered with his career at Liverpool from 1987 to 1989. He joined the club as a replacement for Ian Rush.  He linked up with Peter Beardsley and John Barnes to form one of the most exciting attacking lines in the club's history. He had 69 caps for the Republic of Ireland.  He played in Euro 1988, and with 1990 and 1994 World Cup Finals.
John Aldridge
Honorable Mention 
Harry Gregg (N. Ireland), Packie Bonner (Republic), Charlie Hurley (Republic,  Kevin Moran (Republic), Jackie Blanchflower (N.Ireland), Robert Milne (N.Ireland),  Allan Hunter (N.Ireland), Terry Neil (N.Ireland), Alan McDonald (N.Ireland), Steve Staunton (Republic), Steve Finnan (Republic), Kevin Moran (Republic), Andy Townsend (Republic), Ray Houghton (Republic), Niall Quinn (Republic), Pat Rice (N.Ireland), Steve Staunton (Republic), Peter Doherty (N.Ireland), Damien Duff (Republic).

Squad Explanation
-- I did a review of this team immediately after I edited both all-time teams for Northern Ireland and the Republic. This edition was created on October, 2021.
-- Due to the complexity of Irish question, players who played for any of the Ireland national team are eligible to be on this team.
-- Eight players were from Northern Ireland. Thirteen played for the Republic. Two had played for both teams.
-- In 1978, Northern Ireland played against Ireland in a historical match.  It was the first time the two sides met since partition. Northern Ireland was managed by Danny Blanchflower. The Republic featured John Giles, Liam Brady and Frank Stapleton.  Giles was their player/manager.  Pat Jennings (N.Ireland), Pat Rice (N.Ireland), Sammy Nelson (N.Ireland), Liam Brady (Ireland) and Frank Stapleton (Ireland) were club teammates with Arsenal at the time.
-- There were a large of great athletes who were overseas Irish.  John Elway, Tom Brady, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Jason Kidd and Jack Dempsey were all Irish. Since this team was about Irish players, it had nothing to do with a particular official national team.  I was opened to select overseas Irish footballers who represented national teams other than the Republic or Northern Ireland.  Kevin Keegan (England), Martin Keown (England), Wayne Rooney (England), Jose Luis Brown (Argentina), Fabian Neill (Uruguay) and Carlos MacAllister (Argentina) were the only Irish or part Irish footballers that I could think of. But it would be difficult and even controversial to select for example Kevin Keegan.  The "grandfather" rule might be too difficult. So at this time, I would stay with players who were capped by the two Irish national teams only.  
-- I toyed with the idea of starting a combined Irish team in a specific World Cup years liked what I did with United Kingdom 1970.  Ideally, I wanted to team up the best of both sides.  However, the Republic did not have a good team until Jack Charlton took over the national team in 1986.  They did not produce a result until the European Championship in 1988.  Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's best teams are in the 1980's and George Best's peak was in the 1970's.  The greatest players from each side did not overlap.  However, a team of Pat Jennings, Paul McGrath, Liam Brady, Mark Lawrenson, Norman Whiteside etc might have worked.  And Johnny Giles could also play with Pat Jennings and George Best in the 1970's.  In the end, I created a combined team for 1986 World Cup Finals.
-- Pat Jennings, George Best, Jackie Blanchflower, Liam Brady, Roy Keane, Paul McGrath and Johnny Giles were unquestionable choices, their inclusion as automatic selections undeniable.
Johnny Giles
--  All players considered came from my two all-time teams.  So I limited the players' pool to 46 players.  If you could not make it to those two teams, you were not going to make it here.
-- Pat Jennings was the obvious number one for goalkeepers. 
-- Harry Gregg who was famous because of Manchester United was on my original team, but I took Scott over him when I did a review in 2021.  Gregg was voted the goalkeeper of the tournament at the 1958 World Cup Finals, but Scott had a better overall career.  Elisha Scott who was in Football League 100 Legends in 1998.  He was also Liverpool's longest-ever serving player, having made his debut in 1913 and his final appearance in 1934. 
-- Then, I took Shay Given whose record in the Premiership spoke for itself.  He was on the PFA Team of the Year twice.  With 134 caps, Shay Given is also the second most capped player for the Republic.  
-- Paddy Bonner and Alan Kelly Sr were on my Republic All-Time team.  Kelly Sr was mainly a lower division player.  
-- North Ireland produced of many great rightbacks.  Bill McCracken's exceptional skill in executing the offside trap led to a modification in the "Offside Rule," reducing the required number of defenders from three to two. I viewed him as a historical player who changed the course of the sport. Pat Rice was a serious candidate for the backup rightback. But  I selected John Carey who had played for both FAI and IFA. He was voted the FWA Footballer of the Year in 1949.  He also captained the FAI XI that defeated England, becoming the first non-UK team to beat England at home.  Steve Finnan (Republic) made honorable mentions.  
-- Denis Irwin played leftback for Manchester United due to Gary Neville being on the team, but he was a natural rightback. Sir Alex considered him to be his greatest signing, and I respected Sir Alex's opinion.  Neville himself also considered Irvin a better rightback than himelf.  However, I put him as a leftback as he was popularly known. Then, I took Alf McMichael (N.Ireland) over Steve Staunton (Republic).
-- The Republic had a large number of great center-backs while Northern Ireland lacked a household name.  Jackie Blanchflower's career was cut short because of the Munich Air Disaster.  I might have given him some symphony points because of this incident. We would not know how good he would have became.  So I only put him on honorable mention.
-- Robert Milne emerged as the premier defender in the United Kingdom after Ireland won the 1903 British Home Championship, a triumph they secured under his captaincy. But I did not know if he was any good as compared the other players.  Allan Hunter (N.Ireland) who played for Bobby Robson in Ipswich was also considered.  So I focused mainly on the Republic for central defenders.
-- The central defenders were dominated by players from the Republic.  I took the four center defenders from my Republic all-time team.  They were Paul McGarth, Mark Lawrenson, David O'Leary and Richard Dunne. Charlie Hurley and Kevin Moran made honorable mention.  Hurley and Moran did not even make it to the Republic All-Time team.
-- Paul McGrath was an undisputed choice for central defender, and I also had no doubt about David O’Leary. In 2020, the fans voted Richard Dunne as one of their all-time best XI central defenders alongside McGarth in a poll organised by FAI.  
--  I took Mark Lawrenson over Kevin Moran based upon his career with Liverpool.  Moran had more caps than Lawrenson, but Lawrenson would have gone to Euro 1988 if he was not injured.  In fact, injuries forced him to retire right around 1988 when Jack Charlton's Ireland was emerging as a force to reckon with. 
-- Danny Blanchflower, Liam Brady, Roy Keane and John Giles took four of the midfield spots.  Giles was a player-manager for the national team. I never heard of a player-manager for the national team. Liam Brady was one of the few players from the British Isles who succeeded in playing in the continental Europe. Then, I added Ronnie Whelan.  He was very famous due to the fact that he played for Liverpool.  He was voted the 30th greatest player for them. 
Ronnie Whelan vs N.Ireland
 -- Danny Blanchflower was the PWA Player of the Year in 1958 and 1961.  He captained Tottenham Hotspur, most notably during its double-winning season of 1960–61.  Roy Keane was probably more decorated than any player selected here.
-- Con Martin played and captained both Irish national teams. He played mainly as a center-half, but he literally played in every positions. His stint as a goalkeeper was not a cameo role. He was offered a contract by Manchester United.  He spent a season as Aston Villa's goalkeeper.  He did not make neither of my Irish all-time team.  So I should not consider him.
-- George Best and Billy Bingham took over the two wing spots.  I have no space for  Steve Heighway (Ireland), Ray Houghton (Ireland) and Damien Duff (Ireland).  Ray Houghton scored two of the most important goals in the Republic's history.  His name stayed eternal among their fans.  However, this team was not about the Republic.  Did his two goal have any historical meaning for this combined team? I actually did not have an answer for it.  I just felt that he won't get into the team because of Best and Bingham.
--I disregarded Norman Whiteside from consideration because he retired at the young age of 26. However, I failed to take into account that George Best's decline began when he was around 24 years old. While George Best was often hailed as one of the greatest players ever from the United Kingdom, the same cannot be said for Whiteside, as he didn't come close to reaching that level of distinction.
-- George Best was probably one of the greatest footballer from the British Isles.  Pat Jennings was also among the greatest goalkeepers. Both of them made their Northern Ireland debut on 15 April 1964 during a British Home Championship match against Wales.  Northern Ireland won the game 3–2.
-- Billy Bingham was a childhood friend of Jackie Branchflower. He was at one point the cap record holder for Northern Ireland.  He was later known to lead Northern Ireland to two World Cup Finals as their manager, and he also played in the 1958 World Cup Finals.
-- Patsy Gallacher was on both of Ireland and Northern Irelandall-time team.  He played once for the FAI (Republic) at the age of 41 because FAI national team did not exist during his prime.  He picked up 11 caps for IFA.
-- Robbie Keane is the all-time leading scorer and cap record holder for the Republic.  I dropped Niall Quinn and picked Frank Stapleton and John Aldridge because they were two of my personal favorites. I grew up in the 1980's.  They were also big time players in the English league. Norman Whiteside was also considered too, but injuries forced him to retire early.
-- I grew up watching Frank Stapleton while he was playing for Manchester United.  I also watched a lot of John Aldridge. Stapleton was at one point the all-time leading goal scorer for Ireland while John Aldridge is still the 6th highest goal scorer in the history of English football.
-- Some said that Joe Bambrick was the greatest player from Northern Ireland after George Best, Pat Jennings and Billy Bingham.  In October, 2021, I added him to this team. Bambrick was on  my Chelsea All-Time team. He scored around 360 goals in 299 league matches.
Jennings, Best and Bingham
Starting lineup
Formation 4-4-2
Liam Brady had a great left foot.  He occupied the left midfield, but he would cut inside and playmaker.  Best could play on either side.



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