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8 greatest moments in Irish football

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880   //    11 Nov 2017, 02:36 IST

Wales v Republic of Ireland - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier
Wales v Republic of Ireland - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier

Ireland have never been one of the biggest teams in international football, qualifying for just six major tournaments over the years (three World Cups (1990,1994, 2002) and three European Championships (1988, 2012, 2016). However, over the next week, they will face Denmark twice and if they come out on top, they will head to their seventh major tournament, in Russia next summer.

Ireland's best performance at a major tournament came in 1990 when Jack Charlton's side reached the last eight of the World Cup before losing 1-0 to hosts, Italy, so they don't have some of the memorable World Cup moments that other countries do. However, what the Irish do have is a very passionate fan base and when you make your mark or play any small part in a great Irish victory, you are a legend for life.

The nation loves their sporting heroes so when success comes, no matter how small it may seem on a larger scale, the country gets right behind them and they become heroes overnight.

Join Sportskeeda as we take a look at how some of Ireland's football stars earned legendary status.

#8 Ray Houghton (1988)

Houghton celebrating his goal in front of the travelling Irish fans in Stuttgart
Houghton celebrating his goal in front of the traveling Irish fans in Stuttgart

Houghton was born in Glasgow but ensured he would never have to buy another pint in Dublin for the rest of his life when he scored the only goal as Ireland beat England in the group stages of the 1988 European Championships.

Ireland were huge underdogs going into the game against the English but Houghton, who was one of the smallest men on the pitch, popped up with a header to win the game. Despite that win, Ireland were unable to make it out of the group stages. A draw with the Soviet Union meant avoiding defeat against the Netherlands would send Ireland through to the semi-finals but they conceded a goal in the 82nd minute to Wim Kieft which meant the Dutch went through in second place.

The Netherlands and the Soviet Union would eventually meet in the final with the Netherlands winning the title.

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I am a 33 year old sports writer from Ireland. Passionate about football, NFL, snooker and boxing.
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