2016 Listening Practice Report: Irish Football Stars
Ireland has a long tradition of football – the Irish Football Association was founded in 1880 and its first ever international match was against England in 1882. There are two football federations in Ireland currently – the Irish Football Association, that’s the IFA, and they oversee football in Northern Ireland, while the Football Association of Ireland, the FAI, organises football in the Republic of Ireland. Both teams have played in the World Cup on three occasions. Northern Ireland qualified in 1958, 1982 and 1986, while the Republic played in 1990, 1994 and again in 2002. Now, down through the years there have been many wonderful Irish players such as former Northern Ireland captain Danny Blanchflower, Ireland’s 1990 World Cup central defender Paul McGrath, playmaker Liam Brady and Norman Whiteside who was a young superstar in the 1986 World Cup and so in this week’s practice listening report we have four more footballing greats who played for Irish teams.
Belfast born George Best was a forward with Manchester United and he helped them win the European Cup in 1967 in thrilling style. Best played only 37 times for Northern Ireland and never played at a major championship with his international side but he was still regarded as one of the greatest ever players to have played the game. Indeed, when Best passed away in 2005, Diego Maradona said of the Manchester United winger, ‘He was flamboyant and exciting and able to inspire his team-mates. I actually think we were very similar players – dribblers who were able to create moments of magic’. High praise indeed.
The former captain of Manchester United and the Republic of Ireland played 67 times for his country between 1991 and 2005. The midfielder was voted Ireland’s best player at the 1994 World Cup when they reached the second round but he did not play in 2002 after falling out with then manager Mick McCarthy. What a pity, as Keane had been immense in the qualifying rounds and was instrumental in the team getting out of a group that included Portugal and Holland. Tough tackling, brave, intelligent, a fierce will to win and a wide range of passing, whenever Keane played Ireland always had a chance which was testament to how good the player was.
Not many players can play for both Tottenham and Arsenal and still be respected by both sets of fans in North London, yet that is what goalkeeper Pat Jennings managed to do. He played a remarkable 472 times for Spurs and then another 327 times for rivals Arsenal in a 19 year career lasting from 1964 to 1986. He also played 119 times for Northern Ireland including two World Cups: 1982 in Spain and 1986 in Mexico. Undoubtedly, one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
The striker has had a fantastic career and this former Tottenham, Liverpool and Inter Milan player holds the Republic of Ireland’s record for appearances, with 143 and most goals scored (67). Keane played in the 2002 World Cup scoring three times as Ireland reached the second round and will be involved in this summer’s European Championships in France.
oversees: Is in charge of
he was still regarded as: Many thought him to be …
flamboyant: Exciting, unpredictable
High praise indeed: A phrase that emphasises how good something is
falling out with: Arguing with
immense: Really good, awesome
was instrumental in: Was important
- Wikipedia’s Webpage on the Irish Football Association
- Wikipedia’s Webpage on Roy Keane
- Wikipedia’s Webpage on Pat Jennings
- Wikipedia’s Webpage on George Best