EX-IRELAND STAR Tony Cascarino claims he frequently receives criticism for having opted to play for Ireland, despite being born in England.
Speaking on Off the Ball, Cascarino said that during his time as a player, the squad’s mixture of Irish and English-born players never proved problematic.
However, he said he experienced much criticism for choosing to represent Ireland from certain quarters, and that there was one particularly high-profile footballer who attacked his decision: Frank Lampard. He added:
“Lampard phoned me up because I did a piece on him and Steven Gerrard. He said: ‘I didn’t like your column today.’”
In addition to the Ireland criticism, Lampard was also allegedly upset that Cascarino had rated him 9 out of 10, while giving his England colleague Steven Gerrard a 9 and a half out of ten.
“I said ‘Well you’re not as good as him,’ and it didn’t go well. I then went to the Chelsea training ground a while ago and I was told I wasn’t allowed in… My generation wouldn’t care [about criticism].”
Cascarino also spoke about some of the most memorable days of his career as a player at the 1990 World Cup with Ireland, revealing that the penalty shootout against Romania was “probably the most nervous I’ve ever been”.
He recalled Jack Charlton’s droll response to the prospect of playing Italy in the quarter-finals of the competition:
“He said: ‘You’re going home anyway, you’re playing Italy in Rome, you’ll get nothing off the ref.’ And we thought, ‘we’ll try and prove him wrong.’”
The ex-Chelsea man also added his voice to the growing list of people calling for James McClean’s inclusion in the Euro 2012 Ireland squad:
“I would absolutely trust him,” he said. “He’s the one player who does deserve a chance.”
In addition, he suggested that Ireland have an excellent chance of qualifying from their Euro 2012 group, predicting that Trap’s side would beat Italy, draw with Croatia and lose to Spain.
Cascarino made 88 appearances for Ireland in total, scoring 19 goals.