Where are Ireland's Italia 90 dream team now?

Ah, the memories.

IT’S HARD TO believe it’s 25 years this month since football entered the nation’s conscience as Jackie’s Army captured the public’s imagination with an unforgettable World Cup campaign.

The Ireland team 1990 Source: INPHO

In Ireland’s first appearance on the biggest stage, the Boys in Green stole hearts and minds as they progressed to the quarter-finals of the 1990 World Cup and it was a summer many of us will never forget.

But what about Ireland’s footballing golden generation? For many, the tournament was the highlight of their careers while some used it as a springboard for further success.

Here, we look at where Jackie’s Army are now.

Packie Bonner

Packie Bonner will forever be remembered for that penalty save from Daniel Timofte in the shoot-out win over Romania. Sprawling away to his right, the Donegal man pulled off a vital, and subsequently historic, save as Ireland advanced to the last eight.

Packie Bonner saves a penalty in the shoot out 1990 Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The goalkeeper retired six years later at the age of 36 after winning 80 caps for the Boys in Green. Following the appointment of Brian Kerr as Ireland manager in 2003, Bonner assumed the role of technical director of the FAI after previously being the squad’s goalkeeping coach.

Often appears on TV3 as a pundit during their European football coverage.

Chris Morris

The English-born fullback featured in all five of Ireland’s games and won 35 caps for the Boys in Green as well as enjoying spells with Sheffield Wednesday, Celtic and Middlesbrough.

Chris Morris Source: INPHO

Morris retired in 1997 and returned to work for his family business – Morris Cornish Pasties – which has become one of Cornwall’s most famous exports.

Steve Staunton

The self-proclaimed ‘Gaffer’, Steve Staunton was an ever-present in the Irish defence during the good old years and is the only player to feature in all 13 of Ireland’s World Cup outings across the 1990, 1994 and 2002 tournaments.

His managerial career wasn’t as successful with an ill-fated tenure as Ireland boss ending after just 17 games. A brief stint with Darlington followed and he’s held roles as scouts with Middlesbrough and Sunderland since.

Steve Staunton 1990 Source: ©INPHO

Mick McCarthy

The captain of the side, McCarthy called time on his career two years after Italia ’90 and immediately began to forge a successful coaching career for himself at Millwall before taking over the reins of the national team.

Guided the Boys in Green to South Korea/Japan in 2002 but resigned a couple of months after as the pressure began to mount following a poor start to the Euro 2004 qualifying campaign.

Mick McCarthy and Roberto Baggio 1990 Source: INPHO

Currently manager at Ipswich having enhanced his reputation during spells at Sunderland and Wolves.

Kevin Moran

After football, Moran went into business as he formed a football agency, Proactive Sports Management, with former Man United midfielder Jesper Olsen and agent Paul Stretford.

Kevin Moran and Roberto Baggio 1990 Source: INPHO

The Dubliner, who also won an All-Ireland football championship with Dublin, retired shortly after the 1994 World Cup – during which he didn’t feature because of injury – with 71 caps and 6 goals to his name.

Can occasionally be seen on TV3.

Ronnie Whelan

The Liverpool midfielder was restricted to just one substitute appearance at the tournament despite scoring that famous volley against USSR two years previous. After retiring from the game in 1996, Whelan went into management with Southend before moving to Greece.

Niall Quinn celebrates his goal with Ray Houghton and Ronnie Whelan 1990 Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

He is now a familiar face on RTÉ while also a regular on the after-dinner circuit.

Paul McGrath

Widely acknowledged as one of Ireland’s greatest ever players, McGrath starred in 1990 with his display against the hosts one of the stand-out performances by a player in a green jersey.

Paul McGrath 1990 Source: INPHO

McGrath retired from international football in 1997 but remains a fans’ favourite and was recently honoured by the Aston Villa supporters with a tribute day at the club’s last game of the Premier League season.

Ray Houghton

His standout moment in a green shirt may have come two years previous but Houghton was still an integral part of Ireland’s engine room in 1990. He played on for another decade before moving into punditry and can be seen and heard on RTÉ, Sky Sports and Liverpool TV among other outlets.

Steve Staunton, Niall Quinn and Ray Houghton Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

John Aldridge

Another regular in Jack Charlton’s side, the Liverpool legend went into management shortly after he hung up his boots in 1998 with Tranmere Rovers. A five year tenure at Prenton Park ended in 2001 and he’s since featured as a pundit across many media organisations.

More notably, however, was his winning cameo on RTÉ’s ‘Charity You’re A Star’ competition. Aldridge is still heavily involved with Liverpool.

John Aldridge 17/10/1990 Source: © INPHO

Tony Cascarino

Like many of his old team-mates, Cascarino now spends his time giving his two pennies worth on TV and radio. Overall, the striker scored 19 goals for the Boys in Green in 88 appearances.

Kevin Sheedy

Scorer of the equaliser against England in Cagliari, Sheedy was diagnosed with bowel cancer in August 2012 but has, thankfully, made a full recovery to continue his coaching role with the Everton academy, a position he has held for nearly a decade.

Kevin Sheedy 1990 Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Was Sheedy’s penalty against Romania one of the finest ever taken by an Irish player?

David O’Leary

Probably best remembered for scoring the decisive penalty against Romania but he didn’t feature heavily under Charlton. Retired from international football in 1993 after winning 68 caps and then made big strides in management straight away.

He became Leeds manager three years after calling time on his player career but has been out of work since leaving Al-Ahli after just 15 games in charge.

Republic of Ireland 1990 Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Andy Townsend

Another one of the English-born players in Jack’s Army, Townsend was an integral part of ITV’s football coverage for many years but it was confirmed in January that his contract would not be renewed.

Townsend captained Ireland at the 1994 World Cup in America and was last year inducted in the FAI’s Hall of Fame.

Andy Townsend and Paul Gascoigne 1990 Source: INPHO

It remains to be seen where is next port of call is but BT Sport, who have acquired the rights for Champions League football from next year, is his most likely destination.

Chris Hughton

Hughton was in the twilight stages of his career in 1990 having become the first mixed race player to represent Ireland. 53 caps followed and he then went into coaching with a decade as an assistant at Tottenham.

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Chris Hughton and Frank Rijkaard Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

His managerial break came at Newcastle when he took over as caretaker boss before guiding the club to Premier League promotion. Currently in charge of Brighton after spells with Birmingham and Norwich.

Bernie Slaven

Was called-up to Charlton’s squad for the World Cup but didn’t see any game time and went onto make just seven appearances for Ireland.

His career spanned over two decades, mostly with lower league clubs, and following his retirement went into radio punditry and in 2002 ran for the position of Mayor of Middlesbrough. His campaign well, let’s say, didn’t go well.

Tony Cascarino and Bernie Slaven 1990 Source: INPHO

John Sheridan

Made just one appearance as a substitute in 1990 but started all four games in America. In all, Sheridan made 34 appearances for Ireland before going into management with Oldham Athletic.

Recently in charge at Plymouth but was sacked by the club after two seasons in charge.

Niall Quinn

The striker found the net against Netherlands and went onto become Ireland’s leading all-time goalscorer until Robbie Keane arrived on the scene. He missed the 1994 World Cup through injury but enjoyed a successful career before becoming chairman of Sunderland.

Niall Quinn and Hans Van Breukelen 1990 Source: INPHO

He stepped down in February 2012 after six years at the helm. Has since dipped into other business ventures and splits opinion when heard on Sky Sports as a commentator or pundit.

Frank Stapleton

Another former international who comes out of the woodwork to make fleeting appearances on Sky Sports News. Having made his Ireland debut in 1976, Stapleton was one of the older members of the squad and made just two appearances during the campaign.

Frank Stapleton Source: ©INPHO

Became Bradford’s player-manager in 1994 before heading to the States for a brief spell with New England Revolution. Recently became Ray Wilkins’ assistant with the Jordan national team.

David Kelly

Kelly’s international career will be defined by that goal against England on the infamous night in 1995. He went onto make 26 appearances for the Boys in Green before moving into coaching to work alongside Billy Davies at Sheffield United, Preston North End, Derby County and Nottingham Forest.

Ireland Training 1990 Source: ©INPHO

The 49-year-old is currently the assistant manager at Scunthorpe United.

John Byrne

Byrne, who didn’t feature during Italia ’90, now commentates on Brighton and Hove Albion for BBC Radio Sussex and is also a qualified podiatrist.

Alan McLoughlin

McLoughlin went onto bigger things as he famously scored the goal which saw Ireland qualify for the 1994 World Cup and after retiring from the game in 2003, made the transition into coaching.

Alan McLoughlin 17/11/1993 Source: INPHO

Was recently the manager of Portsmouth but was released from that position in December.

Gerry Peyton

Was Packie Bonner’s understudy and his game time was limited before retiring in 1992. He is currently the goalkeeping coach at Arsenal, a position he’s held for 11 years, after learning his trade Japan.


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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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