ALL THINGS IRELAND: RAY HOUGHTON SAYS EURO'S WILL LIFT IRISH NATION
IRELAND BEAT NEW ZEALAND FOR THE 1ST TIME 40-29 IN HISTORIC WIN IN CHICAGO...

Friday, April 27, 2012

RAY HOUGHTON SAYS EURO'S WILL LIFT IRISH NATION

Former Ireland midfielder Ray Houghton believes that Ireland's participation at Euro 2012 will be a big boost for a country hard hit by a property crash, a deep recession and austerity budgets.
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"There is a feel-good factor about the national team in Ireland. They will get behind their team and it will alleviate the current situation," Houghton told Reuters in an interview.
"The anticipation and the build-up in Ireland is much bigger than what it is in England, where I live now," said the former Liverpool and Aston Villa midfielder, who scored Ireland's first-ever goal at the European finals against England in 1988.
Houghton's header past Peter Shilton gave Ireland a famous 1-0 victory over their fierce rivals.
Ronnie Whelan bettered that effort with a spectacular volley in a 1-1 draw with Russia and the Irish were unlucky to lose to eventual winners Netherlands as they failed to progress in the eight-team tournament.
After an absence of 24 years, Ireland beat Estonia in the playoffs to qualify for only the second time and are drawn in Group C against Croatia, Spain and Italy. The Irish will play all their group games in Poland.
Houghton believes that they will have to take something from their opening game against Croatia on June 10 in Poznan to have any chance of progressing.
"We have to remember that Ireland are up against the last two winners of the World Cup in Spain and Italy, so that first game is hugely important. If we don't take something there, we'll struggle," he said.
Capped 73 times by Ireland, Glasgow-born Houghton was the architect of two great opening results for Ireland - his header against England in the 1988 win and the looping shot against Italy at the 1994 World Cup in the United States, giving Ireland another precious 1-0 triumph.
"I never get tired of talking about those goals but hopefully in the future someone else will come along and do something similar," he said.

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