Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Republic of Ireland Greatest All-Time Team

Ireland 1994

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

United Kingdom
Ireland/Northern Ireland combined team,
Northern Ireland,
United Kingdom.

If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament. I have also created  an all-time Ireland/Northern Ireland combined team here.

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) was founded in 1921 during the partition of Ireland. They went to the Summer Olympics in 1924.  From 1824 to 1936, they competed as Irish Free State.  They started to use the name Irelnd in 1937.  Meanwhile, the Irish Football Association (IFA) also used the name Ireland for their national team.  From 1937 to 1952, two different team was playing as Ireland. In fact, some players were playing for both teams.  In 1953, the FAI's national team was officially recognized as the Republic of Ireland while the national team by IFA became Northern Ireland.  
In 1949, Ireland became the first national team outside of the United Kingdom to beat England at home.  However, Ireland did not make much wave at the international scene until Manager Jack Charlton took over in 1986.  They qualified for their first major tournament in 1988.  At the Finals in West Germany, Ireland beat England 1-0, drew Soviet Union and narrowly lost to Holland.  Two years later, they reached the quarterfinal of the 1990 World Cup Finals before losing to the host Italy.  Four years later, they gained revenge by beating Italy and reached the second round.  In 2002, despite captain Roy Keane leaving the team in Saipan, Ireland reached the second round.

GK: Shay Given
Given started his career with Celtic, 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 earned 126 caps for Ireland. He played in the 2002 WC Finals and Euro 2010. He also went to Euro 2016, but did not play.

GK: Packie Bonner
Packie Bonner played 80 times for Ireland.  He played from Euro1988 to Euro 1996 as Ireland qualified for 5 straight tournaments. He was best remembered for winning the penalty shootout against Romania at Italia 1990.  He spent 20 years playing for Celtics in Scotland. He signed for Celtic on 14 May 1978, becoming Jock Stein's last signing for the Parkhead club.
Packie Bonner vs Romania
GK: Alan Kelly Sr. 
Kelly Sr was capped by Ireland between 1956 and 1973.  He played for Bray Wanderers and Drumcondra in his home country, and most notably for Preston North End in England. He was named Preston's first Player of the Year in 1967–68 aHe was capped 47 times for the Republic of Ireland, and was the father of Gary Kelly and Alan Kelly Jr., who also became professional football goalkeepers.

RB: John Carey 
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. 

RB: Steve Finnan 
Steve Finnan played 52 internationals for the Republic from his debut in 2000, scoring twice. He played for them at the 2002 World Cup.  He had played all four levels of the English levels.  He is best remembered for his 5 seasons with Liverpool. He is the only player to have played in the World Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, Intertoto Cup, all four levels of the English league football and the Football Conference

CB/DM: Paul McGrath 
One of Ireland's greatest 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 McGrath
CB: Kevin Moran
From 1978 to 1988, Moran spent over a decade playing for Manchester United, winning two FA Cups.  He joined Sporting de Gijon in 1988. He moved to Blackburn Rovers in 1990 and helped to secure a promotion to the top division.  He was capped 71 times between 1980 and 1994, and he went to Euro 1988 , and the 1990 and 1994 World Cup Finals.  

CB: David O’Leary 
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
He 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.

CB: Mark Lawrenson
A key defender for Liverpool in the 1980's.  He won one European Cup and 5 league titles. 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.
Mark Lawrenson
CB: Charlie Hurley 
Hurley is best known for his long career at Sunderland.  He played for them between 1957 and 1969. He was named the Black Cats' "Player of the Century" by their fans on the occasion of the club's centenary in 1979, and then, Millwall's greatest players in 2007.  He ended his playing career at Bolton Wanderers.  He played 40 times for the Republic. 

LB/CB: Steve Staunton
He was capped 102 times for Ireland.  He was the first footballer to have reached a century of caps for them. He went to the World Cup Finals in 1990 and 1994.  He captained Ireland at the WC Finals in 2002 after the depature of Roy Keane. For his club career, he started his career with Dundalk.  He played mainly for Aston Villa and Liverpool. 

LB: Denis Irwin 
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. 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.

CM/DM: Roy Keane
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.  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: Andy Townsend 
Townsend played 70 times for Ireland.  He went to both WC Finals in 1990 and 1994.  He was a key player for both Finals, and was the captain of the team in 1994.  He played for many clubs in England, but most notably with Norwich, Chelsea and Aston Villa. He  won won the 1994 and 1996 League Cup with Aston Villa. He captained the 1996 side. On 22 March 2015, Townsend was inducted into the FAI Hall of Fame.

CM/AM: Johnny Giles
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.
Johnny Giles
LM/CM: Ronnie Whelan 
Whelan played for Liverpool during the 1980's, where he won the 1983-1984 European Cup and 6 league titles. He was ranked the 30th greatest player for Liverpool.  Whelan finished his career at Southend United, where he was also player-manager.  He was capped 53 times, and played at Euro 1988 and the WC Finals in 1990 and 1994 for Ireland.

LW/AM: Liam Brady
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 went on to play for Inter Milan and Ascoli. He made 72 caps for Ireland, but he never went to a major tournament.
Liam Brady
LW: Damien Duff 
Duff won two Premiership titles with Chelsea.  After four seasons at Stamford Bridge, he left for Newcastle United where he won the 2006 UEFA Intertoto Cup, and then moved on to Fulham, with whom he played in the 2010 UEFA Europa League Final. He was remembered for his performance at WC 2002 and captained Ireland at Euro 2012.

RW/CM: Ray Houghton 
Born in Scotland, he was capped 73 times for the Republic.  He was best remembered for scoring the winning goal against England at Euro 1988 and against Italy at the WC Finals in 1994.  He was also remembered for his career at Liverpool, where he played with John Aldridge, Peter Beardsley and John Barnes. 

RW/FW: Patsy Gallacher 
He was nicknamed "Mighty Atom".   He was considered one of the greatest Celtics 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 (Ireland) in a game against Spain at the age of 41, the oldest ever debutant for their team.

ST:  John Aldridge
He is still the 6th highest goal scorer in the history of English football.  He was best remembered with his career at Liverpool from 1987 and 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.  He played in Euro 1988, and with 1990 and 1994 World Cup Finals.
John Aldridge
ST: Niall Quinn 
He was capped 92 times for the Republic. He was at one point Ireland's All-time leading scorer.  He went to the Euro 1988 and two WC Finals: 1990 and 2002.  For his club career, he played for Arsenal, Manchester City and Sunderland.

ST: Frank Stapleton 
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: Robbie Keane 
Keane is the all-time leading scorer and cap record holder for Ireland.  He went to the WC 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 and LA Galaxy.
Robbie Keane
Honorable Mention
Micky McCarthy, Kevin Sheedy and Tony Cascarino. 

Squad Explanation
-- Due to the complexity of Irish question, dual international players who played for both the Republic and Northern Ireland between 1908 nd 1950 are eligible to be on this team if they were capped by FAI.
-- I grew up watching Frank Stapleton while he was playing for Manchester United.  I also watched a lot of John Aldridge. So Tony Cascarino just missed out due to my personal opinion.  
-- Tony Cascarino stated in his autobiography that he was adopted and should not have been qualified for the team based upon the "grandfather rule".  For this team, it did not matter.  He played for Ireland and he satisfied my requirement.  
-- - Patsy Gallacher only played once for the FAI at the age of 41 because FAI national team did not exist during his prime.  Since he was capped at least once by FAI, he is eligible as stated above.  Players in his era played for both IFSA and FAI. However, should I include him into this all-time team by playing just a single cap? I did not select Bert Trautmann into my all-time German team because others have done something more for Germany. Tony Cascarino had done more things for FAI national team. He played over 80 times and went to the World Cup Finals, twice. For now, I am keeping Patsy Gallacher.
-- From 1973 to 1980, Johnny Giles was the player-manager for national team.  I never heard of a player-manager for the national team.
-- Damien Duff had a great World Cup Finals.  His contribution to the biggest stage was a factor.
-- Shay Given has suppressed Bonner in my opinion as the num beer 1 of all-time for the Republic.

Starting Lineup 
Formation: 4-2-1-3

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