Belfast Telegraph

Former Northern Ireland star Colin O'Neill gets inked to mark finest hour in the club game

By Angela Rainey

A former Northern Ireland footballer has marked the 25th anniversary of a legendary goal which helped fire his team into the Scottish Cup final with a celebratory tattoo.

Midfielder Colin O'Neill (53), who played for Motherwell for seven years from the late 1980s, scored a screamer as Celtic were outgunned in the semi-final, earning the Fir Park outfit a showdown against Dundee United.

Reports at the time celebrated the Larne man as having "thundered home from 35 yards as Motherwell clinched a 4-2 win, and a place in the final".

Motherwell went on to secure a 4-3 victory over Dundee United - incidentally the last time Well lifted the Scottish Cup.

Despite suffering a knee injury which put his place in the decider in doubt, O'Neill was included in the squad by manager Tommy McLean, who brought him on for the game's last three minutes.

Now, to mark 25 years since the final on May 18, 1991, O'Neill has had an image of the Scottish Cup tattooed on his right thigh by a Northern Ireland tattoo artist known only as Stevie 'Badger'.

"Badger came highly recommended, I heard he was the best so I wanted him to do it," said O'Neill, whose career included spells at Ards, Larne, Ballymena United and Portadown.

"It's 25 years this May since I scored the winning goal that got the club into the final so I wanted to mark it. Plus the club is 130 years old this year so I wanted a good tattoo to commemorate it as it was the best team I ever played for. I was really happy there."

O'Neill sat in his Motherwell kit for just over three hours as Badger painstakingly inked him with an impressive shaded replica of the cup, topped by the commemorative year 1991.

Recalling Motherwell's glorious cup win at Hampden Park, O'Neill said he can remember the litres of champagne being sprayed over the players in jubilation.

It was both Motherwell's and Dundee United's sixth Scottish Cup final, and also the first time the clubs had met in the event, dubbed the "family final", as the managers of both clubs were brothers Tommy and Jim McLean.

O'Neill already has two Motherwell tattoos on his forearm and leg, both with his nickname 'Psycho' on them; he says the cup is his ninth and final tattoo.

"The tattoo looks excellent, Badger did a brilliant job and I am really pleased with it," added O'Neill, who has had his knee, right hip and two ankles replaced following footballing injuries.

"I'm wearing it with pride and the first thing I'll be doing is putting it on Facebook to show all the Motherwell fans. Earlier, about 300 people posted saying they are dying to see it.

"It wasn't too sore, certainly not as bad as having your knee replaced, that was painful."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph