If Mick McCarthy is English just because he was born here then Cliff Richard is Indian and the Duke of Wellington Irish

FAN'S EYE VIEW: No 127 Republic of Ireland

We've had some great moments in the last few years following the boys in green. Think of David O'Leary's spot-kick against Romania in Italia '90 or Ray Houghton's winning goals against England in Euro '88 and Italy at USA '94. What do these players have in common? Well, neither was born in Ireland. "You're really only England B," I was told by the bloke in the pub last summer. "I've got an Irish Wolfhound; does that make me eligible to play for Ireland?" he asked, under the illusion that I hadn't heard the joke 83 times before.

Walk into any pub in Shepherd's Bush on Wednesday and, when Tony Cascarino misses his first sitter of the evening, for every shout of "Jayzus, what a gobshite," you'll hear two of "wha' a tossah". Try telling any of the blokes with London accents that they're not Irish in spite of the green jerseys and you'll get pretty short shrift. Try telling them that the British-born children of Irish immigrants shouldn't be playing for Ireland and you'll get the same reaction.

It is true that Ireland uses parental qualification rules for players more than most (or even all) other countries. Ireland has been haemorrhaging people for 150 years and of all the people theoretically qualified to play for Ireland only a fraction is Irish by birth. I don't see why Alan Kelly, for example, should not play for Ireland just because his dad, also an Irish international, had to move to Preston to get paid for playing football.

Anyway, think of all the players we could have picked but didn't. Would Argentina have won the World Cup in 1986 if we had not generously overlooked the sweeper Jorge Brown's Irish grandmother? Possibly not, but since FAI officials had famously scoured a Wicklow graveyard at midnight to find the gravestone of Mark Lawrenson's granny so that he could play for us it would have been a bit greedy to go for Jorge merely as a back-up. See how restrained we can be.

It is not even as if we are alone in this. A certain country not a million miles from here went to the 1990 World Cup with Terry Butcher, Tony Dorigo and John Barnes, who were born in Singapore, Australia and Jamaica respectively. Bobby Robson was even reported as trying to persuade the South African- born Roy Wegerle to join up as well. If only he had succeeded then he could have gone to the 1990 World Cup with a team made of players from every continent on Earth except America. Not that I want to point the finger at anyone.

Of course Ireland uses the fact that half the world has an Irish granny to gather as many good players as possible for our team. England uses the fact that it has a wealthy Premier League. I don't see much of a difference.

It is not where you're born but how you feel that gives you your nationality. If Mick McCarthy is English just because he was born here then Cliff Richard is Indian and the Duke of Wellington was Irish. But as the Duke himself said, if you're born in a stable does it make you a horse?

As for Wednesday, I'll be back in the pub watching on satellite even though the game is on terrestrial TV for once. Even Charlton Athletic get on telly here more often than Charlton's Ireland and I'm not abandoning the craic in the local for the novelty of watching from the sofa. I know we will be going for all-out attack and a high-scoring win - once we get to the penalty shoot-out that is. But, if it all goes wrong and Aron Winter should score against us at Anfield, I hope I won't be alone in appreciating the irony of it. Winter was born in Surinam.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
News
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
news
News
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
news
News
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?