Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Since when did international football become a choice and not an honour?

Football: World Cup 1982. Northern Ireland Team line-up. The Team Pat jennings, Chris Nicholl, John McClelland, Mal Donaghy, Dave McCreery, Billy Hamilton, Norman Whiteside, Gerry Armstrong, Sammy McIlroy and Martin O'Neill.
Football: World Cup 1982. Northern Ireland Team line-up. The Team Pat jennings, Chris Nicholl, John McClelland, Mal Donaghy, Dave McCreery, Billy Hamilton, Norman Whiteside, Gerry Armstrong, Sammy McIlroy and Martin O'Neill.

There was a computer game on the market when I was a kid called Sensible Soccer…

It was all the rage for those who had a Commodore Amiga 500 or equivalent.

Endless lost hours would be spent in front of the small monitor as an addictive 2D format — long before the inventions of FIFA and Pro Evolution — took over your life.

In career manager mode, the objective was simple — boss a club of your choice and if you proved to be consistently successful over a period of time you would be offered employment at another club or the ultimate achievement — to be rewarded with the honour of managing your country.

There was an option to turn the invitation down and concentrate on your current club — but no-one ever pressed that button.

It would have defeated the purpose of the game.

International football was the pinnacle.

Read Paul's full analysis only in tomorrows Sunday Life

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