In The World Cup’s Finest we ask various individuals to delve into their own personal history of football’s quadrennial showpiece extravaganza, selecting a number of favourites as well as revealing what is their very first World Cup memory.
Today we hear from Shane McLaughlin, Managing director at BETDAQ, who discusses the lasting influence of the 1986 Mexico World Cup, how football exploded onto the scene thanks to the Republic of Ireland and why Roger Milla is the ultimate super sub.
First World Cup memory
31 May – 29 June 1986 (World Cup, Mexico). I was only seven years old and the Republic of Ireland didn’t qualify, so I was rooting for Pat Jennings and Northern Ireland having met him at a football camp the summer before. I remember he had such huge hands – I was always going to be an Arsenal fan and aspiring goalkeeper after that.
Favourite World Cup
Diego Maradona (Argentina v England, 1986). Again, one of my earliest World Cup memories. Everyone was in full flow debating the “hand of God” goal four minutes earlier, when Maradona produced the goal that may never be surpassed in terms of individual brilliance against quality opposition in a game of such magnitude. You watch it over and over and still think someone is surely going to come and tackle him, but he was unstoppable that day.
Roger Milla. The ultimate super sub at Italia ’90 at 38 years of age, he captured the imagination with this seemingly incredible ability to come on, get a goal, and then do the trademark celebration dancing around the corner flag. Then he came back and repeated the feat scoring at USA ’94 at the age of 42!
Republic of Ireland, 1990. Football really exploded in Ireland when the team qualified for Euro ’88 in West Germany, and that momentum was carried into Italia ’90 where the whole team were now household names. We drew the three group games with England, Egypt and the Netherlands and then beat Romania on penalties to reach the quarter finals, where the hosts Italy beat us 1-0. The country went absolutely football crazy for that month.
France v Brazil, 1998. I really wanted France to win this game against the reigning champions, Brazil. France had hosted a fantastic tournament, the team had a few Arsenal players for me to support, while Zinedine Zidane was great to watch. Finals can be tight and dour affairs, but this was a great match and a comprehensive result inside the 90 minutes.
Mexico (Jorge Campos at USA 1994 and France 1998). You were always wondering what luminous, technicolour kit Jorge Campos would turn up in. He brought something colourful and different to the game and I definitely wore a few dodgy jerseys in goal over the years due to his influence.
The World Cup’s Finest is to be a regular feature during the Russia World Cup, profiling a different individual each week day, if you would like to be involved please email firstname.lastname@example.org.