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30th Mar 2023

Ian Harte says that Giovanni Trapattoni didn’t know that he was Irish

Robert Redmond

Ian Harte Ireland

“His reply was, ‘I never knew he was Irish’.”

In episode one of our new podcast House of Football our co-hosts Eric Lalor and Damien Delaney sat down with Ian Harte.

The former Leeds United defender played 64 times for the Republic of Ireland and scored 12 goals.

Harte was a key member of the team that reached the 2002 World Cup, and he scored in the play-off against Iran that secured Ireland’s place at the tournament.

Harte, however, only played another 21 times for Ireland after the tournament in Japan and Korea.

Ian Harte’s Ireland career.

The full-back’s last competitive appearance for Ireland came against San Marino in 2007 under Steve Staunton.

Harte was never called up by Staunton’s successor, Giovanni Trapattoni. According to the former Leeds full-back, the Ireland boss wasn’t aware that he was Irish.

During the 2010/11 season, Harte was playing some of the best football of his career.

The Drogheda native scored 11 goals in 40 Championship matches for Reading and helped the Royals reach the play-off finals, where they lost to Swansea City.

Harte shared a dressing room with Ireland internationals Shane Long and Noel Hunt and asked Long to put in a good word with Trapattoni.

The legendary Italian coach, however, seemingly hadn’t done his homework on the player, who was 33 at the time.

Ian Harte: Giovanni Trapattoni didn’t know I was Irish.

“I was playing for Reading at the time,” Harte said on House of Football.

“Honestly, I was flying, scoring goals, playing amazing football at Reading.

“Shane Long was coming across (to Ireland) and I spoke to him, I said to Longy, ‘Have a word with Trapattoni’.

“Trapattoni’s reply was, ‘I never knew he was Irish.’ Deadly serious.

“Longy came back and said, I mentioned it to the manager and he said he didn’t even realise Ian Harte was Irish.

Even after Long informed Trapattoni that Harte was Irish, the player was still never called up again.

“What a waste,” said Harte, who spoke with great pride about playing for Ireland.

“I played 63 times and scored 12 goals. Sticking on the green shirt is the best feeling in the world. It was an unbelievable feeling.”

Harte also spoke about his penalty miss against Spain at the 2002 World Cup, when Iker Casillas saved his shot.

The ex-Leeds defender was carrying an injury when he took the spot kick but refused to blame his miss on the injury.

“I think for every footballer… you’re never, ever going to be 100 per cent when you’re playing, you’ll have niggles or whatever,” he said.

“But the problem I had was like a cyst kind of in between me, my two toes. It was very painful because obviously, it’s nipping away at the nerves and that.

“I would like to have gone in there in better health, but you just have to deal with the situations and try and give it the best account that you can do.

“So it had nothing to do with the foot injury.”

“You know the weight of the country on your shoulders. I took many penalties in my career, and pretty much scored them all,” Harte continued.

“They say when you take penalties, never change your mind. We trained on the pitch the night before the game and I practised whipping them into the bottom corner

“I ran up and I thought, ‘He knows I’m going that side’,” Harte said about Casillas.

“I changed my bloody mind so he saved it! Luckily enough we got another penalty, and Robbie took it and stuck it away.”

Harte also spoke about how far Ireland could have gone at the tournament if Roy Keane had have remained with the squad and the Saipan incident never taken place.

“It’s always what might have been if we got through on penalties (against Spain),” Harte said.

“If we had have had Roy Keane, the leader or the legend, that he is. If we had him in that tournament, who knows where we would have gone?

“I mean, maybe even the final, you never know, Let’s dream big here! 

“A man of the stature Roy in that squad, and even without Roy, we were so good we played really good football in that tournament.”

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