I see Toto Schillaci, spoiler of Ireland’s Italia ’90 adventure (a tournament notable for its awful football, with the ‘boys in green’ no exceptions to the rule) has been promoting this week’s qualifier in Bari on behalf of Boylesports.
The diminutive Salvatore is unrecognisable from the closely-shorn, mad-eyed striker whose goal, one of six the Golden Boot winner scored during those finals, after Packie Bonner’s slip-up, knocked us out at the quarter-final stage. That’s because he’s wearing a wig/weave so outstanding that it makes Stephen Ireland’s short-lived Beatle-look seem tame by comparison.
Ray Houghton, the other half of the Boylesports double-act, says the public and media should get off the Irish players’ backs, arguing that all Republic teams over the years have been guilty of churning out rubbish on occasion.
No coincidence of course that Ray – normally the most unforgiving on analysts on RTÉ – was a member of the headhunting committee who snared Trap (with a little help from Denis O’Brien), not to mention the fact that he is one of the FAI’s €100,000-a-year scouts.
Looking at Ireland’s limited options in the centre of the park, I wonder might someone suggest to Ray that he try revisiting the possibility of Kevin Nolan throwing his lot in with us. The Liverpool-born former Bolton midfielder hasn’t exactly set the Northeast on fire since moving to Newcastle in January.
It’s a very remote possibility seeing as he’s politely said no before – though he was “extremely flattered” when approached by Brian Kerr – indicating he’d ambitions to add to his England underage honours. How realistic that goal is must be moot.
Still, despite likely objections from FIFA, it could be worth another try. Maybe Damien Duff could have a word in his second/third-generation Éire ear.