Moments of Magic #6 – Ronnie Whelan

As Ireland go into a huge game against Cyprus this weekend, Moments of Magic recalls one of the greatest goals in the nation’s history.

#6 -Ronnie Whelan v USSR, 1988

The greatest shinner ever scored? Well that would be slightly cyncial as Ronnie Whelan’s acrobatic strike against the USSR at the 1988 European Championships was a thing of beauty.

Ireland qualified for their first major tournament in 1988 and were drawn in a tough group alongside England, the Netherlands and the USSR.

Ray Houghton’s header gave the Irish a shock win over their English neighbours in the first round of fixtures and confidence was high going into the clash in Hannover.

With just over half an hour gone in the game, a monster throw in from Mick McCarthy dropped to the edge of the penalty area and Whelan found the top right hand corner of the net with a speactacular scissor kick.

The USSR, who would eventually lose to the Netherlands in the final, equalised in the 74th minute however through Oleh Protasov.

Whelan later admitted that he was convinced that his effort was a shoe in for the Goal of the Tournament award until Marco Van Basten popped up with his wonderstrike in the final.

Ireland left the tournament with their heads held high, only missing out on qualification for the knock out stages on the last game day, and with a famous victory over England to their name.

Whelan played more than 350 times for Liverpool at club level, winning six league championships and a Europaan Cup amongst others, before finishing his playing career with Southend United in 1996.

He has since managed Southend, Panionios of Greece, and Cypriot sides Olympiakos Nicosia and Apollon Limasso.

Author Details

Neil Sherwin
Neil Sherwin

Co-editor of Writes mostly on Premier League and A-League with contributions to other sites including TheFootballSack, InBedWithMaradona and Bloomberg's BSports. Has featured on The Guardian's Football Weekly.

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