Jason McAteer on Ireland's dressing room comments before famous Dutch victory
'An afternoon that defied words, and certainly logic'.
So declared The Guardian, back in September 2001, when Ireland stunned a star-studded side from The Netherlands to help chart a course to the 2002 World Cup.
On the same day Moby opened for U2 at Slane Castle by playing 'My Lovely Horse', a lad nicknamed Trigger rocked the Dutch on their heels.
Ireland's 1-0 triumph is remembered for four iconic moments - Roy Keane clattering into Marc Overmars, Holland finishing with four strikers for the last 20 minutes, Steve Staunton's dodgy header that near caught out Shay Given and, most importantly, McAteer sweeping in a crisp finish past Edwin van der Sar.
Mick McCarthy's side were in the same qualifying group as The Netherlands and a Portugal side containing the likes of Rui Costa, Luis Figo, Nuno Gomes and more.
Few gave the Irish a hope, but this team were made of hardy stuff.
McAteer spoke with SportsJOE, this weekend, when he was in Dublin for the official Premier League Trophy Tour with league sponsors Coca Cola. In an interview with Paddy McKenna, the former Liverpool star spoke about that game, and that goal:
"Before the game, the Dutch team were saying 'We're going to score lots of goals. We're going to the World Cup'.
"We found out, after, that they had booked their plane to Japan, and their hotel. So, they were literally coming to score as many goals against us, to beat us.
"We were told this, before the game, in the dressing room. It was a really good thing as it got us right up for the game."
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) April 13, 2019
As for that sweet, sweet strike, McAteer remembers he was lurking just outside the Dutch box as he was being 'a little bit lazy'. He says:
"Roy Keane won the ball and got it to Steve Finnan. The cross came in but I remember it taking ages to get to me.
"I remember thinking, 'Keep it down, keep it down!' It came to me and it hit it, and it went top corner, and I ran off like a lunatic."
One wonders who was telling the Irish players, nine months out from the World Cup, that the Dutch had hotels (plausible) AND flights (less plausible) booked for Japan and South Korea?
Whoever it was... genius.