Snap shot: Northern Ireland reach '86 World Cup
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
With Northern Ireland seeking to qualify for UEFA EURO 2016, we turn the clock back three decades to the last time they booked a place at a major finals – at Wembley.
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The task was simple for Northern Ireland going into the last day of 1986 FIFA World Cup qualifying: avoid defeat and they were through to a second successive finals; lose and in all likelihood Romania, playing 24 hours later, would pip them.
Less simple, though, was the fact their opponents were England and the venue was Wembley – never a happy hunting ground. Despite already being through, Bobby Robson's side were not in charitable mood and it took a memorable performance from goalkeeper Pat Jennings – and a more forgettable one from home striker Kerry Dixon – to earn a 0-0 draw that took Northern Ireland through.
1. Billy Bingham
The only man to play and manage Northern Ireland at a major tournament. A winger for Sunderland and Everton, Bingham won 56 caps and helped the province reach the 1958 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals. A decade on he was at the helm, but it was his second stint as Northern Ireland boss between 1980 and 1993 that elevated him. Bingham led his side to the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, masterminding a famous victory over hosts Spain in '82 as they got to the quarter-finals. Bingham is now 84.
2. Gerry Armstrong
Armstrong sealed his place in Northern Irish folklore with the winning goal against Spain in 1982. It was one of three for the forward at the World Cup, and his exploits set in motion a move to Real Mallorca 12 months later. The former Tottenham and Watford man was 29 by then; he returned to England two years later to wind down his career in the lower leagues. He subsequently worked as Northern Ireland assistant manager and is now a television pundit and expert on Spanish football.
3. David McCreery
Small but teak-tough, 'Wee Dee' did not attract the same headlines as midfield partners Sammy McIlroy and Martin O'Neill but he was key to Northern Ireland's success in the 1980s. Best associated with spells at Manchester United and Newcastle United, McCreery started all eight of his country's World Cup games in 1982 and 1986, being named in the all-star XI in Spain. He retired in 1995 and has since managed in England, Myanmar and Malaysia.
4. Nigel Worthington
A cultured left-back and cousin of Brendan Rodgers, Worthington was 23 when this photo was taken. He went on to serve as skipper and won the last of his 66 caps 12 years later. Worthington played out the bulk of his career in England, making over 400 outings for Sheffield Wednesday. He then managed Blackpool, Norwich City and Leicester before a four-year reign as Northern Ireland boss. He resigned after UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying and after a stint with York is taking a break from the game.
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