Who gets your vote as Ireland's greatest ever soccer player?
The next generation are about to embark on the road to Rio in 2014, but who is Ireland’s greatest ever soccer player? We decided to put it to a vote.
It’s a debate that has taken place on barstools across the country on countless occasions and has probably caused plenty of bar-room brawls at the same time, but with Ireland about to start the road to the 2014 World Cup in the glorious nation of Kazakhstan, we thought we’d start it up again.
So, who do you think is Ireland’s greatest ever soccer player? Obviously there are a whole load of candidates, but to narrow the scope of the debate we decided to nominate the five players that we believe have most distinguished themselves in a green jersey down through the years.
The likes of Johnny Carey and Noel Cantwell were undoubtedly great servants, but with our readership in mind, we felt it unfair to include players from that generation with such little video evidence and thus have nominated players who most Irish fans will have seen at close hand or in readily available archive and YouTube footage.
Below is the list of names of our candidates and a brief explanation as to why we feel they deserve to be considered amongst the best Irish players ever.
As well as being a convenient place to stalk attractive former female schoolmates, Facebook is arguably the best barometer of one’s popularity these days so in that spirit, we’d ask you to cast your vote by heading on over to our Facebook page and ‘liking’ the picture of your chosen player that will be on the page between now and Thursday evening. We’ll be back on Friday to let you know who came out on top.
As one of Manchester United’s best players for years, Keano’s ability was never in doubt, but it was his leadership and his influence that truly made him one of the greats.
His performances in the run-up to the 2002 World Cup were arguably his finest in a green shirt, which made his subsequent absence from the tournament such a shame. Continues to divide opinion because of his personality and everything that went on in Saipan, but nobody doubts the impact he made when he did put on the jersey.
It’s debatable as to whether a more loved and worshipped player has ever played for Ireland and there are numerous reasons for our fixation with the Black Pearl of Inchicore. Despite playing on one leg for the majority of his international career, heroic, medical science-defying performances were McGrath’s stock-in-trade, his finest hour coming when he repeatedly repelled Baggio and company against Italy in USA ’94.
Most Irish supporters of this generation would find it hard to look past Roy Keane as Ireland’s greatest ever occupant of the engine room, but Giles was just as tough as the Corkman and probably a better passer of the ball too. Put the two of them together and you’d have a partnership that no team would relish going up against.
He comes across a bit moany these days, but Chippy is probably the greatest creative talent this country has ever produced. The Dubliner possessed a wand of a left foot and although himself and Jack Charlton didn’t always get on towards the end of his playing days, he still had plenty of fine days in green, particularly his debut against USSR in 1974 and his goal against Brazil 13 years later.
Ireland don’t create many players of Brady’s ilk, but at his peak, he really was one of the best around.
Unlike contemporaries Shay Given, Damien Duff and Richard Dunne, Keane enjoys a fairly lukewarm relationship with the Irish fans and it is a mystery why. For a country like Ireland, Keane’s record of 53 goals in 120 internationals is incredible, yet cynical Irish fans will throw out excuses about scoring in friendlies and being too selfish in front of goal.
Granted, he’s scored his fair share of friendly goals, but as he did against Paris in ’09 and against Spain and Germany in ’02, he does it on the big occasion as well and selfishness is a trait shared by the most lethal of strikers.
Ireland have never had a predator like him before and we’ll probably never have anyone like him again.