It’s twenty six years ago next month.
Six years after his goal against England in Stuttgart earned him a place in Irish history (and not just sporting history) Ray Houghton struck again in Giant’s Stadium New Jersey.
It was June 18 1994. And just as we had been in Stuttgart, we went into the game as massive underdogs.
But we outnumbered the Italians in the stands by, oh, six, seven – maybe ten to one!
And Ray struck.
Well, of course the celebrations were huge.
I can’t remember which bar I was in that evening. But The Star being Ireland’s soccer bible at the time, a few lads recognised me. And I’m glad they did.
Their story was brilliant.
They’d gone back to their hotel after the game and changed into, if your like, civilian clothes, leaving their Ireland gear behind for the night.
They emerged from their hotel, they told me, and jumped into a cab.
As it moved away, the driver spoke: “Where are the shites?”
They looked at each other.
Then the cab driver spoke again. This time, he clearly wanted an answer.
“WHERE ARE THE SHITES?”
The lads looked at each other again.
They’d heard stories about New York. Wasn’t the safest city in the world back then.
They didn’t know what do to.
Then the driver spoke one more time.
“Where are the shites. The green shites. You guys always wear green shites.”
They can get you into terrible trouble…