Irish Soccer's Most Memorable Moments, No 10: Gilesy makes his debut 11 years ago

Irish Soccer's Most Memorable Moments, No 10: Gilesy makes his debut

We’ve reached the top 10 most memorable moments in our countdown and today we look at John Giles debut.

This has to be a memorable moment despite the lack of television cameras at Dalymount Park the day Sweden came to play Ireland in November, 1959.


The amount of old-timers that have regaled people with tales of how they were in the old home of Irish football to watch one of Ireland’s greatest ever midfielders make his debut would have filled the ground twice over. Giles himself has remarked on how to tale of his debut has grown over the years, playing down his role.

He nearly didn’t make it to the match, a friend told him he was in the paper to play in the Irish squad, such simple times. The 19-year old from Ormond Square in Dublin trekked over to make his debut despite making only a handful of appearances for Man United.

It got off to a bad start Giles had to be greeted by Ireland's president Eamon De Valera, someone his mother wasn't fond of and they were playing Sweden, the runners-up at the 1958 World Cup, who had beaten England the week before. The Swedes were clearly no slouches and took a 2-Nil lead.

Then Johnny Giles did something that has latched itself onto the collective folk memory of Irish soccer fans for years after, he bulleted a forty-yard volley into the back of Sweden’s net. The goal was said to be one of the best ever scored, a pity that there is no footage of it.


Ireland went on to register an impressive 3-2 victory and John Giles went on to be put forward as Ireland’s best ever player at UEFA’s Jubilee awards in 2004 and play for twenty years in a green jersey and it all started in that match against Sweden that lives on in Irish football fan’s memories.

Before we leave John Giles let JOE remind you of one of our favourite quotes from England’s World Cup-winning manager Sir Alf Ramsey:

As I look at all the talent and character at my disposal today, my one regret is that John Giles wasn't born an Englishman.


We’re counting down the days to Ireland’s Euro 2012 opener against Croatia. Join us every day in the build-up to the tournament for another classic Irish soccer memory.

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