O’Leary on THAT penalty at World Cup ‘90

David O'Leary
David O'Leary

'The nation holds its breath... yes! Ireland are through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup!'

On June 25, 1990, the Republic of Ireland were involved in a penalty shoot-out for the very first time against Romania.


Speaking exclusively to our 'In Lockdown' podcast, David O'Leary revealed what it was like taking that iconic winning spot-kick for his country at Italia 90.


"I walked down that day, all those fans behind the goal were all still," O'Leary said. "I got the ball off the referee and I decided on the way down that I was going to hit it to the goalkeeper's left-hand side.

"I placed it on the spot and the place was so still. I ran up... the goalkeeper dives the wrong way and the ball hits the net. There's an absolute explosion of green behind the goal and the place goes mad!


"My mum tells me that my dad got down on his knees when he saw me walk up [to take the penalty], he started praying in the front room of the house in Dublin. My wife Joy stepped out into the back garden. My son ran outside and told her I'd scored and she couldn't believe it. 

“I walked out that day and people were saying to me, 'What were you thinking?' It wasn't far from the halfway line down to the penalty box but it seemed to take ages. I kept saying to myself, 'Don't mess this up.'


"The goalkeeper had saved [the previous penalty] to give us a chance. The four lads beforehand had set it up and I'm thinking to myself, 'You might not get this chance again. If you miss and it comes back to sudden death, it could be their opportunity to go through by one of their players having it, so this could be the opportunity. Don't mess this up for everybody else.' I had that in my head, 'Don't mess this up.'


"I said to myself before I got to the ball, 'It's going to the goalkeeper's left-hand side, I'm not going to look at him.' As I say, there were Irish fans for about three or four hours behind that goal going nuts. They were still as anything. Then when the ball hit the net there was this green explosion again. It was amazing!


"Honestly, I have to tell you. Thank god I did score because I'm reminded [of it] that much. I'm sent that many drinks, coffees, I've won that many things in Ireland for it. I just look back now and think, 'Thank god I did score.'"

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