Jack Charlton’s account of David O’Leary’s penalty is absolute gold 5 years ago

Jack Charlton’s account of David O’Leary’s penalty is absolute gold

A manager holds his breath.

Genoa. Timofte. Packie. O’Leary. We’re there.


There’s nothing else that needs to be said when it comes to remembering one of the most important and joyful moments in Irish sporting history.

Once again, Jack Charlton’s World Cup Diary has supplied some absolute gold while also providing a unique insight into an incredible moment.

Republic of Ireland soccer training 1991 Jack Charlton ©INPHO

Have a read of some pure sporting nostalgia but it also provides a wonderful example of the sportsmanship and compassion that Jack had for his Romanian counterparts.

Here’s how Jackie recalls that famous shoot-out that took place 25 years ago today, word-for-word.

Jack Charlton front coveredit

Packie thumped the ground in delight. Hauled himself off the grass, and like every Irish supporter in the ground, my eyes moved almost instinctively back to the centre circle to see who was going to take the last and vital kick for us.


I’m as much in the dark as anybody and I must confess that I’m a little taken aback when I see big David O’Leary striding up towards the penalty area.


As one of the old school, I’ve never considered centre backs to be among the best takers of a penalty and as far as I know, David hasn’t taken one for years. But the big fellow strides up, puts the ball down and hoofs it down the middle.

It wasn’t the best penalty that I’ve ever seen but for my money it was the most vital. O’Leary is mobbed by his teammates. What a moment for him.

World Cup 1990 David O'Leary of the Republic of Ireland celebrates after he scores the penalty against Romania Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland


I look at the Romanians and my heart goes out to them. To lose any World cup game is galling but to go out in these circumstances is absolutely heartbreaking. What can I say that will lessen the pain? Then I look at the sheer joy on the faces of the irish people around me, and i realise that what we’ve just seen will adorn Irish sporting history forever.