“I remember Dennis Wise saying; ‘One England cap is worth 50 Ireland caps.’ All I’d say was; ‘It’s more than 20 years since you’ve beaten us”. In Part 2 of our interview with two of the stars of Jack’s Charlton’s history-making Irish squads, Tony Cascarino tells Póg Mo Goal that scoring against England was a highlight of his career.
On a brief sojourn in Cork this week, Cascarino happily discussed everything from Celebrity Bainisteoir to rubbing England’s players noses in it for the domination by their opponents from across the Irish Sea during a golden generation for Irish football.
On a first reunion with fellow Euro ’88 and Italia ’90 stalwart Packie Bonner for some years ‘Cas’ commented that the former players still see each other from time to time and remain very friendly. The men who inspired a revolution under Jack Charlton remain a close-knit group with Andy Townsend being one of Tony’s closest cohorts.
Cascarino revealed that one of his greatest moments in football was scoring against England during a Euro ’92 qualifier at Lansdowne Road which finished 1-1.
“To score against England was extra special. Playing for Ireland, the English players would give plenty of stick to us Irish lads. I remember Dennis Wise saying: ‘One England cap is worth 50 Ireland caps.’ All I’d say was: ‘It’s more than 20 years since you’ve beaten us!”
The 49-year-old who scored 19 times for the Republic added that being in an English club dressing room as an Irish player was particularly great during the 1988-’89 season and similarly for 1994 when England failed to qualify for the USA World Cup.
“My favourite football moment was, therefore, scoring against England. What made it extra special though was that there were a number of Villa players in the England line-up (Cascarino played for Villa at the time). I remember (England manager) Graham Taylor wagging his finger at me when I came on, warning me against scoring. He had signed me shortly before that so to score against England – and to go in to the dressing room a few days later wearing my Ireland jersey was fantastic. The England players would always wear their jerseys coming to training after they got a big result, so to do the same to them – having scored against them – was very special.”
Around the time of the release of his highly-lauded book Full-Time, much was made of Cascarino’s tenuous links to Ireland. The revelation that his mother had been adopted by her Irish father prompted Cascarino himself to question his eligibility to play for the Republic.
None of this was known, however, when he first chose to line out for the Boys in Green. So would the former Millwall, Chelsea and Marseilles player have picked England if they had asked him at the same time?
“That’s a hard one. I mean, it wasn’t really an option. I grew up in a very Irish family in south London, going to Mass with my grandad every Sunday and drinking black and tans. So, it was never really an option for me and I had some of the most memorable moments of my career in an Ireland shirt. I never had one regret getting involved with the Irish set-up.”
So what does the holder of 88 international caps predict for Giovanni Trapattoni’s side this summer as Ireland return to the European Championship stage?
“Well it’s a really tough group. Ireland have never ceased to amaze me with what we have achieved at major tournaments, but this is the toughest group we’ve ever had.”
“If we get off to a decent start then I think we’ve a decent chance of getting out of the group. If I had to, I’d predict Spain to not just win the group, but win the tournament. They look the best team in the world but I wouldn’t bet money on anyone in this group, it’s a very hard one to predict because it looks so tight.”
Packie Bonner and Tony Cascarino joined Miss Cork Susan Brosnan to reveal details of Supervalu’s fabulous Euro 2012 competition.
SuperValu is offering one lucky family the Trip of a Lifetime to attend Euro 2012. The lucky winners will travel across Europe in a luxury camper van from Paris to Poznan. Over the two week adventure the winning family will visit some of Europe’s top holiday attractions, from Disneyland Paris to Europe’s largest water park, Tropical Island and with tickets courtesy of Kia Motors, cheer alongside the green army at to two of Ireland’s UEFA Euro 2012 matches.