TAKE YOURSELF BACK to June 1995.
Under Jack, we have amassed 14 points from the first six Euro ’96 qualifiers with wins over Latvia, Liechtenstein, Portugal and Northern Ireland at Windsor Park. With the kind of results Ireland are acquiring, a place at the finals in England should be assured in no time.
At that point, however, the wheels fall off. Back-to-back defeats to lowly Austria follow an embarrassing 1-1 draw with whipping boys Liechtenstein and a loss to the Portuguese, which means we just pip our northern neighbours to runner-up on goal difference.
A play-off meeting with the Netherlands on December 13 is the reward. Anfield is the ‘neutral’ venue decided upon and the Boys in Green pack Liverpool’s ground during a freezing night on Merseyside.
Van der Sar, Ronald de Boer, Seedorf, Bergkamp, Overmars and a fresh-faced Patrick Kluivert line out against a side stripped of Roy Keane, Steve Staunton and Niall Quinn.
The outcome? A lesson in football. 19-year-old Kluivert bangs in two but it could have been a few more as Ireland are outplayed for 90 minutes.
Charlton comes out to applaud the army of supporters who are still in full song long after the final whistle. It proves a cruel end to an era as he hands in his resignation days later.
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