Irish Soccer's Most Memorable Moments, No 46: The Gaffer makes his debut, 2006
Time for number 46 on the countdown and a new era for Irish football in 2006.
Stan it all started so well, what the hell happened?
It was 2006 Brian Kerr had been at the helm of two unlucky campaigns and the FAI Commander-In-Chief Mr. John Delaney felt it was time for a change.
He promised Ireland “a world class manager” instead we got “The Gaffer.”
To be fair to Steve Staunton, he was a legend of a player – the first Irishman to break one hundred caps for his country during the 2002 World Cup where he captained Mick McCarthy’s side.
It was part of a trend all around Europe where international teams were appointing legendary players with no major managerial experience as coaches.
Jürgen Klinsmann was with Germany, Marco Van Basten was at Holland and Slaven Bili? was at Croatia.
Evidently it was what the cool kids were doing so why not us?
In his first friendly match in charge Staunton thrashed Sweden, who were 14th place in the FIFA World rankings at the time, 3-Nil at home.
We played with abandon and Staunton's controversial choice for captain Robbie Keane got on the score sheet.
This was cathartic after the conservatism of Brian Kerr’s defensively-minded side.
The cheap booze ran freely in the streets, the economy was great, the RTE panel were cautiously optimistic (the best you can really hope for with them) and we were on the way back.
The mood in the above clip is pretty accurate.
The results got worse and worse culminating in a 5-2 defeat to bloody Cyprus.
It didn’t help that Stan got increasingly tetchy and paranoid with the press, clearly a tactic his former manager and friend Kenny Dalglish has borrowed recently.
This friendly result makes our top fifty purely because for one brief moment it was all so good.
Today marks 46 days to go until the start of Euro 2012, so stick with us every day as we present another memorable Irish soccer moment.