Mersey World Cup memory no.18: Kevin Sheedy nets the goal of his life
He knew it was in from the moment the ball flew off his trusty left boot.
Kevin Sheedy’s equalising goal for the Republic of Ireland against England at the Italia 90 World Cup was a trademark laser-guided effort, fizzing across the rain-soaked turf at Cagliari’s Stadio Sant’Elia and past Peter Shilton in a split second.
But while it was a moment to savour for the Everton midfielder, it was one to forget for Liverpool’s Steve McMahon.
The England sub was robbed in possession on the edge of the box by Sheedy, who secured a 1-1 draw with his 72nd-minute leveller.
“Steve tried to play the ball square to Gary Stevens but I nipped in,” Sheedy told the ECHO’s Ken Rogers after the game. “I had the confidence to hit it first time and from the moment it left my boot I knew Shilton had no chance.
“It was a fantastic feeling to see it hit the back of the net. We knew that defeat against England would have made it very difficult to qualify and that’s why I rate this goal as the most important I’ve ever scored.”
“It fell to the wrong player as far as we’re concerned,” lamented England boss Bobby Robson, by no means the first manager to be undone by a left-footed Sheedy strike.
Ronnie Whelan, who would have played for Ireland had he not been injured, had some sympathy for his Anfield teammate McMahon: “Kevin scored a great goal, but at Steve’s expense. Steve was probably cold when he came on. Kevin was red hot. He picked the ball up and doesn’t miss from that range.”
Gary Lineker had given England an early lead, bundling home from close range in the eighth minute of a dour contest branded “painful” to watch by the Italian media. A freak rainstorm at the start of the second half did little to lift the mood in the stadium, but the Irish fans went home happy thanks to Sheedy’s late intervention.
The dead-ball specialist was unsettled at Goodison and being heavily linked with a switch to Manchester City at the time, but it would be a further two years before he would move on (to Newcastle).
As for Ireland’s World Cup campaign under Jack Charlton, they got as far as the quarter-finals before losing 1-0 to the hosts in Rome. England went a step further before bowing out in a flood of tears in Turin.
Sheedy in action against England
Tomorrow: The story of Liverpool FC’s first World Cup player – and one of the tournament’s biggest upsets
Mersey World Cup memories:
Number 20: Pele’s Samba stars humbled at Goodison.
Number 19: When El-Hadji Diouf sent Reds fans into a summer frenzy.