Mick McCarthy was on Sky Sport’s Fantasy Football Club last week to pick his best eleven of players he’s lined out with. Proving that the former Irish boss bleeds green, his selection is dominated by team-mates from his time as player and captain of the Boys in Green.
The man who came to be known as Captain Fantastic under Jack Chartlon, before leading Ireland to the World Cup as manager, sat down with Paul Merson to pick his #One2Eleven. What became clear is not only the quality of the players Big Mick lined up with in an Irish shirt, but the affection the former Celtic, Millwall, and Lyon player holds for his time in the Republic team.
McCarthy skippered Ireland at our maiden World Cup in 1990 and famously cried in the dressing room after our quarter-final defeat to hosts Italy.
“You can’t remember how it felt at the time. I only know what it means to me now being captain. It was something that gave me a lot of pleasure and something that I get a lot of pride out of,” he later remarked.
McCarthy took Ireland to the last sixteen of the 2002 World Cup as coach following the infamous Saipan crisis that engulfed the squad. The Republic were defeated by Spain in a penalty shoot-out.
In club management he guided Sunderland and Wolves to promotion to the Premier League. At both clubs, he heavily recruited Irish players and has done the same at current side Ipswich Town where Daryl Murphy’s form has earned him a recall to the national squad after five years, while Stephen Hunt is grateful for the faith McCarthy has shown in him as he looks to resurrect his career. The Portman Road outfit are mid-table in the Championship and eyeing a play-off spot.
Packie Bonner, Paul McGrath, Kevin Moran, Chris Hughton, Ray Houghton, Andy Townsend, Kevin Sheedy, and Frank Stapleton all make the cut in Mick’s Fantasy Football Club eleven.
McCarthy was among the favourites to return to the Irish hot-seat following Giovanni Trapattoni’s departure but acknowledged that Martin O’Neill was the FAI’s first choice.
Perhaps we might yet see him in the Irish dug-out in the future, somewhere going by these selections, where he’d feel right at home.