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The Republic of Ireland team, back row, from left, Frank Stapleton, Mick McCarthy, Tony Galvin, Paul McGrath, Pat Bonner and John Aldridge, front row, from left, Ray Houghton, Ronnie Whelan, Chris Hughton, Chris Morris and Kevin Moran. European Championship Finals 1988, Group B, Republic of Ireland v Holland, Parkstadion, Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Photo: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

The 1988 Boys in Green… where are they now?

From taxi driving to podiatry, Daniel McDonnell traces the steps of each member of the Irish squad after they featured in one of the most important chapters in the history of Irish international soccer

The Republic of Ireland team, back row, from left, Frank Stapleton, Mick McCarthy, Tony Galvin, Paul McGrath, Pat Bonner and John Aldridge, front row, from left, Ray Houghton, Ronnie Whelan, Chris Hughton, Chris Morris and Kevin Moran. European Championship Finals 1988, Group B, Republic of Ireland v Holland, Parkstadion, Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Photo: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Today marks the 30th anniversary of Ireland’s opening game at Euro ’88, a 1-0 victory over England in Stuttgart.


Stapleton’s playing career was approaching the final furlong in 1988 and he went into management with Bradford and then New England Revolution but it didn’t really work out. He did have a spell in the 2000s as a specialist coach with Sam Allardyce at Bolton and was assistant to the late Ray Wilkins in his fleeting spell as the manager of Jordan. The Dubliner was a prominent pundit in the decade or so after his retirement but his most recent contribution to Irish football has been as a scout for Martin O’Neill. Stapleton does some work for Betfred and with the Manchester United Legends.


Bonner has stayed in the football world and went into punditry as well as serving as goalkeeping coach under Mick McCarthy. He then became technical director of the FAI when Brian Kerr was appointed senior team manager, but he left that role in 2010. The former Celtic goalkeeper is based in Glasgow where he works in Scottish television as well as being employed as a consultant with UEFA in goalkeeping coaching.


An iconic figure in Irish football history but it hasn’t always been plain sailing for McGrath off the park and he was brutally honest about his struggles in his stunning autobiography ‘Back from the Brink’. He did spend a brief period working in the League of Ireland with Waterford and is back living in Ireland permanently – the 58-year-old is based in Wexford. McGrath is a columnist with the ‘Sunday World’ and is involved with a number of charities.


Whelan’s marquee moment at the finals came with his spectacular effort against the USSR in the next game, although his place in the affections of Jack Charlton was always a matter of debate. Whelan tried his hand as a manager in England and Cyprus, but the Liverpool-based Dubliner is another member of this panel who primarily makes his living in the media world. He has worked as a columnist with various titles and is a co-commentator with RTÉ. The 56-year-old is involved in charity work with an annual golf classic to raise funds for Fighting Blindness.


Morris was recruited to the Ireland squad in 1987 as he qualified through his mother but the newcomer quickly became first-choice. After football, he initially went into the property world before taking over his late father’s bakery in 2003 – which was a pie shop that specialised in Cornish pasties. The business expanded before it was hit by the economic crash. Morris sold it a couple of years back and now works with the English FA in his native Cornwall.


The man for the big occasion with his header in Stuttgart rivalled by his strike against Italy in Giants Stadium six years later. Houghton has remained on the Irish football scene in various guises. He has an extensive media CV through work with RTÉ and Sky and was also part of the selection process before Giovanni Trapattoni’s appointment as Ireland boss. The Glasgow native has also worked as an ambassador with the FAI. His main employer now is UK radio station Talksport.


Aldridge ended his playing days at Tranmere where he ended up as player-manager. He departed that post in 2001 and is another individual who has primarily made his living in the media, although he was also involved in the ownership of a bar in his native Liverpool. The 59-year-old now works in local radio in Liverpool as well as doing some commentary work for Liverpool TV. In Ireland, Aldridge is a columnist with ‘The Herald’ and ‘Sunday World’.


He might have been one of the lower-profile members of that Ireland squad but Hughton is the one that is still doing it at the highest level. Indeed, his stock is higher than ever before after his success in taking Brighton to the Premier League and keeping them there. After spending years in the backroom at Spurs and with Ireland, he has proven that he has the strength of character to be a number one. He managed a difficult situation well at Newcastle and also tasted promotion with Norwich. His best days in football might still be ahead of him.


Moran moved into sports management once he finished his career – with Blackburn Rovers his final club – and set up an agency called Proactive Sports with agent Paul Stretford and his old team-mate Jesper Olsen in 1994. He has now scaled down his involvement in that business. Moran’s brother Ray is a knee specialist who recently retired  and the brothers were  involved in the establishment of the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry and he retains an interest there. Moran lives in Altrincham.


The Yorkshire man has also showed remarkable staying power to survive in the business and, as he approached the final furlong of his playing career, he went straight into management with Millwall and has barely taken a break since. As Ireland boss, he sampled an extreme level of highs and lows and it’s been a roller-coaster across his various club experiences in England with Sunderland, Wolves and Ipswich. A love-hate relationship with fans has been a constant theme, but he will be back in work again soon with a point to prove.


The Huddersfield-born winger was the one Irish player who could understand what the USSR players were saying in the 1-1 draw that followed the famous win in Stuttgart as he had a degree in Russian studies. He had gone to university before making it as a professional footballer. Galvin would later work as a college lecturer after a brief spell coaching alongside old pal Ossie Ardiles. He then moved into the civil service before retiring in 2012. Last year, he told he was a “busy grandparent”.



Quinn made a cameo appearance in the England victory but was sidelined for the rest of the tournament. He was just 21 years of age at the time and went on to play a big role for Ireland in the World Cups in 1994 and 2002. Quinn has retained a high profile since hanging up his boots and has dabbled in business with varying levels of success, worked as a pundit with Sky Sports and most notably spent time as chairman of Sunderland where he hired Roy Keane. He finished up with Sky last summer to move into a new business project in the world of technology.


It’s possible that Sheedy will always be remembered for another game against England – his equalising strike two years later at Italia ’90 to deliver a precious point. Still, the Everton legend was a big part of Jack Charlton’s squad in Germany.  Sheedy was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012 but successfully fought the illness. He was working as an academy coach at Everton until he left last summer and took a role coaching youth players with Saudi Arabian side Al-Shabab FC. However, he is currently on the look-out for a new football opportunity.



The reserve goalkeeper moved into goalkeeping coaching and went travelling with his job when he hung up his gloves in 1994. He worked with two clubs in Japan and then experienced life in Sweden with AIK before joining the Fulham staff in 2001. In 2003, he was hired by Arsene Wenger and the 62-year-old has spent the past 15 years working under the Frenchman. However, he’s now searching for a new role with Arsenal also looking to refresh their backroom team after the exit of the long-serving boss.


Another member of the panel that remains a familiar presence on TV and can often be heard on radio. Cascarino’s autobiography ‘Full Time’ offered a superb insight into the ups and downs of his career which culminated with a spell in France. He’s maintained a competitive streak in the next stage of his life and has earned a substantial amount of money as a poker player, stating that it paid for his two divorces. Cascarino is fond of a punt and is an ambassador for Betdaq; he also has a long association with London newspaper ‘The Times’.


Another unused squad member who joined Newcastle in the summer of 1988 and went on to enjoy a lengthy spell with Tranmere – where he played under Aldridge – before ending his career in the League of Ireland. The Dubliner then continued his association with the game as a coach with Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers and he was part of Pat Fenlon’s backroom staff at Hibs. He was Harry Kenny’s number two at Bray last season but the pair left together. O’Brien also works as a taxi driver.


Kelly did not get to play in the tournament either, but he has managed to stay in the game. Indeed, he had another 14 years of playing in him and eventually finished up with a stint at Derry City. He left to become assistant boss of Tranmere and that’s a role he has favoured throughout the career. ‘Ned’ – as he is known – had an association with Billy Davies that brought him to Preston, Derby and Nottingham Forest. After pairing with Mark Robins at Scunthorpe, his last brief was at Port Vale where he was given a crack as caretaker boss before leaving last October.


He didn’t play in Germany, but there was a European theme to the striker’s summer as he made the move from QPR to French side Le Havre. Byrne returned to England and featured for Sunderland in their 1992 FA Cup final defeat to Liverpool after scoring in every round on the road to Wembley. He stayed in the game at lower levels until 1996 but has gone on a different path and qualified as a specialist podiatrist – which is medical expertise in the foot department. He works for the NHS in Sussex.


The classy midfielder was on the fringes of Euro ’88 and would have to wait until USA ’94 before he was really given a prominent role in a major tournament. Since hanging up his boots, the former Sheffield Wednesday playmaker has become something of a journeyman manager specialising in the English lower leagues. He has had three stints as manager of Oldham, and also spent time in charge of Chesterfield, Plymouth, Newport and Notts County. Sheridan ended a short spell at Fleetwood last month to be replaced by Joey Barton and has since taken over as boss of League Two side Carlisle.


The Dubliner can now be heard regularly on the airwaves as he is a broadcaster in the north-east of England who covers Newcastle games for local radio  and is a frequent guest on Irish radio to discuss matters on Tyneside. Anderson is also involved in a printing business. He settled in the area after finishing his football career in 1992. Anderson’s last Irish appearance came in October of 1988 but he did not get on the field in Germany.

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