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Rangers hero Mark Hateley: England ‘85 game was a trip from hell


‘EYE-OPENER’: Gers hero Mark Hateley

‘EYE-OPENER’: Gers hero Mark Hateley

‘EYE-OPENER’: Gers hero Mark Hateley

Former Rangers star Mark Hateley has said playing for England against Northern Ireland was a “nightmare trip” which opened his eyes to the Troubles.

He scored the only goal to claim victory at Windsor Park in February 1985 but admitted he remembers the visit for what happened off the pitch as much as on it.

Mark (60) said: “I took the ball on to my weaker right foot — something I rarely did — and I thrashed the ball beyond the huge hands of one of the greatest goalkeepers in the game, Pat Jennings. But that summed up the confidence I had at that time.

“That night opened my eyes too as it was my first experience of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

 “There was hostility throughout the 90 minutes, and bottles rained down onto the pitch at various points during the game.

“And when we attempted to leave the ground to catch our flight back to England, we were held back as a car was blown up in the car park and a bomb had gone off close to one of the bridges on our route back to the airport.

“A journey that should have taken 15 minutes took over three hours, and a nightmare trip was sealed when fog enshrouded our destination airport, Luton, and we had to divert to Manchester.”

Hateley was playing for Italian giants AC Milan at the time before going on to win honours with Monaco in France under future Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and then becoming a legend at Rangers.

In his new book Hitting the Mark, he also paid tribute to late Glentoran boss Alan McDonald, who was his skipper when they played together for QPR.

He said: “Alan was a great guy. A big Rangers man — he had a Rangers tattoo on his forearm.

“He was captain of Northern Ireland and I remember travelling up with him to watch an Old Firm game and then going to the SECC later that night to watch Nigel Benn box.”

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