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01st Apr 2013

Mighty Mac: Paul McGrath

One of the greatest players that the Irish team has ever seen, Paul McGrath is remembered fondly by every fan of the Boys in Green


One of the greatest players that the Irish team has ever seen, Paul McGrath is remembered fondly by every fan of the Boys in Green

“Ooh ah Paul McGrath I said ooh ah Paul McGrath” was the chant that would often ring around Landsdowne Road when the big man took to the field, and with 83 caps, we had plenty of opportunities to see one of the best in the game play.

Paul McGrath began his career at St. Patrick’s Athletic, making his professional debut for St. Patrick’s Athletic, and grabbed the attention of pretty much everyone, including Ron Atkinson at Manchester United, who brought him over to the iconic club in 1982.

His time there wasn’t as glittering as it may have been were he to play just a few short years later, but he did pick up an FA Cup medal in 1984.

Once Alex Ferguson took charge, knee injuries were giving constant trouble to McGrath, who found it difficult to stay a regular in the team as a result, and the Scot began to make clubs aware that he would be availabel for transfer.

Moving to Aston Villa in 1989, McGrath became a huge club legend, making over 250 appearances, and bringing his immense ability to read the game and play through anything to make it on to the pitch.

His first season at Villa was almost a dream start, as the Birmingham based club finished a close second to Liverpool in the race for the title. His best was yet to come in the next season though, when he was so outstanding that he was named PFA player of the year in 1993. To this day, he is still held in great regard by all Aston Villa fans, but we here at home perhaps remember him best for putting everything on the line any time he pulled on the green jersey.

In World Cup 1990, he played all the games, making some iconic performances as Ireland fought their way memorably through to the quarter finals and lifted the spirits of the whole nation.

Again, in 1994 McGrath was a hugely impressive performer, as he played through a shoulder virus to completely dominate a feared Italian team at a game in Giants Stadium, in a dream win in the opening game which still lives in the memory of every Irish fan. The noise was incredible, the stadium was green, and the tears were on the point of falling from every eye as Ireland got a famous victory, retribution for the meeting of the two teams in the previous tournament.

We highly doubt there’s a single Irishman who won’t want to watch this video of the incredible game.

A fitting tribute to McGrath is difficult to find, given the length of his career, and the context in which he played many games, fighting injury and other personal problems that he has been very candid about in his award-winning autobiography Back from the Brink, but this video does him some justice across his clubs and international career.

Perhaps the closing words are best left to one of the most successful Irish managers ever and the man who would have seen Paul put in some of his best performances, Jack Charlton, who said “Paul McGrath is one of the all-time greats, someone to compare with Bobby Moore. He’s one of the best players I ever had”.

Mighty Macs is brought to you in association with Supermac’s