What connects James McClean to the First World War, a Czech giant and a rotund Andy Reid-esque legend of world football?
Ireland have announced their warm-up opponents ahead of the European Championships with the Czech Republic and Bosnia & Herzogovina visiting Dublin before a trip to Budapest will be the final run out just six days before our Group C opener with Croatia in Poznan.
The Czech Republic come to the Aviva Stadium in February with the clamour growing for the inclusion of Sunderland action man James McClean.
If the Derryman is to make his debut against the Czechs he’ll hope to fare better than former fellow Sunderland player Paul Butler.
It was the same month in 2000 that the Mancunian was given his debut by Mick McCarthy at the heart of the Irish defence.
For 45 minutes he was pulled like a rag-doll around Lansdowne Road by the human Nakatomi Tower Jan Koller. Subsequently hauled off at half-time, Butler’s international career had died hard before it started (yea, we said it.)
With a slimmer of hope that he could blast his way into Trapattoni’s squad plans, McClean looks set to take the opportunity with both Hans (cough).
Bosnia & Herzogovina will provide the send-off for the Irish team when they pitch up in Dublin on May 26.
The Irish management feel the Baltic state will prove the perfect opponent to pit our wits against a style similar to near-neighbours Croatia.
Bosnia also qualified for the Euro 2012 play-offs but were heavily beaten going down 6-2 to Portugal.
Like Ireland, the Bosnians experienced their own heartache in Paris during qualification.
In the final group game, leading 1-0 through an Edin Dzeko goal, they looked on course for automatic qualification.
However, they were thwarted by a controversial penalty decision when Samir Nasri appeared to be fouled outside the box before stumbling inside and earning a spot-kick with just 12 minutes remaining. The Man City player dusted himself off to fire home and send Les Blues through by a point and condemn the fuming Bosnians to the perils of the play-offs.
Trapattoni will then take Ireland to a training camp most likely in Italy before jetting to the home of Andy Reid -lookalike Ferenc Puskas and the Magnificent Magyars with his squad of 23 for the Euro finals.
The Hungarians once proved the catalyst for Ireland to leave FIFA.
Prior to the infamous split that saw the founding of the Football Association of Ireland in 1921, the game on this island was administrated by the IFA in Belfast.
During the First World War, international matches were curtailed and the fledgling FIFA, founded in 1904, almost vanished. At an assembly convened in Brussels in 1919, the ‘British’ associations refused to establish sporting ties with former enemies in the war like Hungary and the other Central Powers. So the Irish effectively left FIFA until after World War II.
In the meantime, however the infant FAI joined FIFA in 1923 thanks to support of who other than the French.
Hungary were in our qualifying group when Jack Charlton led the Republic triumphantly to our first World Cup at Italia ’90. A 0-0 draw in Budapest was followed by a 2-0 win at Lansdowne.
In September 1991, Ireland won 2-1 in a friendly in Gyor while two years later the Hungarians were the visitors for David O’Leary’s testimonial in Dublin, one of four games when they were managed by a certain Mr. Ferenc Puskas.