Thursday, January 8, 2015

Northern Ireland All-Time Team

Northern Ireland 1982

Please also see my All-Time Team Index.
Ireland/Northern Ireland combined team,

The national team today known as Northern Ireland is organized by the Irish Football Association (IFA).  They were playing under the name Ireland until 1953.  After the Partition of Ireland in 1920's, Southern Ireland founded their own Football Association, namely
the Football Association of Ireland.  From 1937 to 1952, they also used the name "Ireland" for their national team.  Thus, two "Ireland" was playing in that period.  In 1953, the national team from IFA became Northern Ireland officially while the FAI's team became Republic of Ireland. 

The FAI's team known as Ireland won the British Home Championship in 1914 right before the First World War.  The best ever team for Norther Ireland probably came in the late 1950's.  They qualified for the 1958 World Cup Finals in Switzerland.  Until 2006, they were the least populous country to have qualified for the World Cup Finals.  The team led by Danny Blanchflower advanced to the quarterfinal, becoming and remaining as the smallest country to reach the second round in World Cup history. Despite having George Best in the 1960's and 1970's, Northern Ireland did not qualify for the World Cup Finals until 1982.  Their 1982 World Cup campaign was best remembered by beating the host Spain in Valencia and qualified to the next round.  They also qualified for the WC in 1986.  The 1980's generation was also remembered for beating West Germany twice home and away in the Qualifiers for Euro 1984.  The away match was West Germany's first ever home loss in a WC or European qualifier.

If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament. I have also created  Ireland/Northern Ireland combined team here.

GK: Pat Jennings
Considered among the greatest goalkeeper of all-time.  The prime of his career was spent with both Tottenham Hotspurs and Arsenal.  In 1973 the Football Writers' Association named him as its footballer of the year. Three years later he won PFA's version of the award – he was the first goalkeeper to receive this accolade, and to this date remains only one of two, along with Peter Shilton. He earned 119 caps for Northern Ireland and went to two WC Finals. 

Pat Jennings

GK: Harry Gregg 
Matt Busby's goalkeeper from 9 seasons.  He survived the Munich Air Disaster.  He was voted best goalkeeper of the tournament at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, where Northern Ireland reached the quarter-finals.

GK: Elisha Scott 
Scott played 31 times for Ireland(IFA).  He played for Liverpool from 1912 to 1934 and he remains as the longest-serving goalkeeper for Liverpool.  He won two English Champions with them.

RB: Billy McCracken 
He was one of the most successful defender of his time.  McCracken played for the English club Newcastle United from 1904 to 1924, helping them win three League titles and the FA Cup. He was known for setting the offside trap for the attackers.  The offside rule was changed because of him. 

RB/LB: John Carey
He was also a dual internationalist, playing for and captaining both Ireland teams – the FAI XI and the IFA XI. In 1949, he was voted the FWA Footballer of the Year and in the same year captained the FAI XI that defeated England, becoming the first non-UK team to beat England at home.  As a player Carey spent most of his career at Manchester United, where he was team captain from 1946 until he retired as a player in 1953. 

RB: Pat Rice 
He played for Arsenal between 1967 and 1980.  He was known for being a member of the team that won the Double in 1970-1971.  He played for Watford. He was capped 49 times for Northern Ireland. 

Pat Rice

CB: Alan McDonald 
He was capped 52 times for Northern Ireland. He was a part of the team that went to the WC in 1986. He spent most of his career with Queens Park Ranger. He also had short spells with Charlton Athletic and Swindon Town. 
CB: Robert Milne
Between 1894 and 1906 Milne also made 27 appearances and scored 2 goals for Ireland. He was the captain of Ireland(IFA) as Ireland became the co-champion of the 1903 British Home Championship.

CB: Terry Neill 
He played for Arsenal between 1959 and 1970.  He was at one point the younghest ever captain for the club.  He later played for Hull City. He was capped 59 times for Northern Ireland.

CB/FB: Aaron Hughes
He played over 450 games in the Premiership without sending-off, the second best in history after Ryan Giggs.  he is a defender while Giggs is an attacker. He was capped 94 times, captaining the national team for most part of his career.

CB: Jackie Blanchflower 
Along with his brother Danny, he helped Northern Ireland to qualify for the World Cup Finals. He was a member of Busby Babes. He survived the Munich Air Disaster, but his career was cut short. He retired in 1959. He only had 12 caps and missed the 1958 WC Finals.
Jackie Blanchflower

LB: Alf McMichael
Belfast-born McMichael began his career at Linfield, before signing for Newcastle United in 1949. He remained at Newcastle until 1962, appearing 433 times. He was part of the team that won the 1952 FA Cup Final. At one point he was considered the best left-back in Britain and was a popular player amongst Newcastle United supporters. He represented Northern Ireland 40 times.

CM/AM:  Danny Blanchflower 
He won the Double in 1961 with Tottenham Hotspurs.  He won the FA Cup the following year, and then, a Cup Winners' Cup in 1963.  He was the PWA Player of the Year in 1958 and 1961. He went to the World Cup in 1958.  

Danny Blanchlfower(R) vs England

CM: Sammy McIlroy 
He joined Manchester United in 1969, becoming Matt Busby's last signing at the club.  He stayed there until 1982.  He joined Stoke as their record signing.  He played in both Spain 1982 and Mexico 1986.  He was the captain of the 1986 side.

LW/RW: George Best 
Considered to be one of the greatest players ever played the game.  He was one of the "United's Trinity".  He led Manchester United to their first (and also first ever for an English club) European Cup in 1968.  He won the PWA PLayer of the Year award and the Ballon d'Or that year.

George Best

RW: Billy Bingham 
He was at one point the cap record holder for Norther Ireland. He helped them to qualify for Sweden 1958, where North Ireland reached the quarter-final.  He won a league title with Everton in 1963. His longest stint was with Sunderland, where he spent 8 years.  

RW/FW: Patsy Gallacher 
He was nicknamed "Mighty Atom".   He was considered one of the greatest Celtics players ever.  The 1925 Scottish FA Cup Final was called "the Patsy Gallacher" final after he scored a somersault goal.  He played 12 times for IFA (now called Northern Ireland) and one time for FAI (Ireland).

FW: Gerry Armstrong 
In 1982, he scored the winning goal against the host Spain during the final group game of the World Cup Finals.  For his club career, he played for various club in England and he played the most games with Tottenham Hotspurs and Watford.  He also had a brief stunt in Spain after the WC.

FW/LM: Peter McParland 
He played for Aston Villa between 1952 and 1962.  He scored two goals against Manchester United at the FA Cup Final of 1957.  He was also remembered for injuring Manchester United keeper Ray Wood in a legal move during the game. He scored 5 goals at the 1958 WC Finals in Switzerland.

AM/FW: Jimmy McIlroy
He is considered Burnley's greatest ever player.  He helped them to win the 1959-1960 First Division League title(1st tier back league before the Premiership).  He went to the WC Finals in 1958.

FW/CM Norman Whiteside 
In 1982, he became the youngest player ever played in a WC Finals.  He also played in the 1986 World Cup Finals.  For his club career, he made his debut with Manchester United as a 16 years old in 1982.  He became a starter in the 1982-1983 season as a teenager.  However, his career was marked with injury problems. e moved to Everton in 1989, which was then a more successful club than Manchester United.  He retired in 1991.

Norman Whiteside
ST Peter Doherty
He played for Ireland(IFA) between 1935 and 1950.  He won a league title with Manchester City in 1937, an F.A. Cup final with Derby Countyin 1946.  His later career saw him as the central figure as player and manager during Doncaster Rovers most successful era.

ST: David Healy
He is the all-time leading scorer for Northern Ireland with 36 goals, and also holds the record for the highest scoring tally during a European Championship qualifying campaign with 13.  He spent his entire career with various club in England.  He had brief spells with Fulham and Sunderland in the Premiership.

David Healy

Honorable Mention
John McClelland, Gerry Taggart, Jimmy Quinn.

Squad Explanation
  • Due to the complexity of Irish question, dual international players who played for both the Republic and Northern Ireland between 1908 and 1950 are eligible to be on this team if they were capped by IFA's Ireland. 
  • David Healy was selected based on his record with the national team.
Starting lineup
Formation: 4-4-2
My starting lineup is much older than some of the all-time team I found on the internet.  My youngest starters are George Best and Pat Jennings.  I thought of starting Norman Whiteside.

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