'You had to be born in the Republic,' Cantwell said. 'We occasionally produced a great player such as Charlie Hurley or John Giles, but never had talent in depth. We were close to qualifying for the World Cup finals in 1966 but had to play off against Spain in Paris and lost.'
Having found fame with West Ham, Cantwell joined Manchester United for pounds 31,000 in 1960, a record for a full-back. As captain, he lifted the FA Cup with United in 1963, winning a Championship medal two years later.
He served the Republic again as manager in 1967-68, but gave up to concentrate on keeping Coventry in the First Division. Two spells in charge of Peterborough, where he still lives, were separated by six years in the United States at New England and Jacksonville. He left football in 1989.
Nowadays, Cantwell keeps the New Inn in Lincoln Road with his wife of 32 years, Maggie. He is also director of a leisure club. He is going to America to follow the Irish campaign, as well as to visit his eldest daughter, a nurse in Fort Lauderdale. 'I had breakfast with Jack and Maurice Setters in Dublin before they left, and I'm looking forward to celebrating with them,' he said.