Golden Goal: Ray Houghton for Republic of Ireland v England (1988) | Alan Smith

Twenty-eight years ago, Ireland were underdogs in their first game at a major tournament but a Glasgow-born midfielder ruined the hopes of England

No matter how often he is shown the footage, what Ray Houghton remembers most from the day Irish football changed forever is not, as you might expect, the moment he headed past Peter Shilton. Instead it is the stifling heat from that remarkable afternoon in the Neckarstadion, Stuttgart. By the end the Ireland players were foaming at the mouth, exhausted and oblivious to the scale of what they had just achieved. “We were absolutely drained,” Houghton says 28 years later. “We put everything into it.”

England had entered the tournament with, as Bobby Robson said, their “best squad for six years” and harbouring genuine ambitions to rule the continent. The Republic of Ireland, it seemed to almost everyone including certain members of Jack Charlton’s squad, were just happy to participate.

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