16/10/1985 Bucharest Romania 1-0 Jimmy Quinn
Pat Jennings, Jimmy Nicholl, Mal Donaghy, John O’Neill, Alan McDonald, David McCreery, Norman Whiteside, Ian Stewart (Nigel Worthington), Jimmy Quinn, Sammy McIlroy, Steve Penney (Gerry Armstrong)
Having already lost to the then no hopers Finland (todays equivalent to the Faroe Island’s) in their first qualifying game, Northern Ireland were playing catchup in the group from the start. With two games to go Northern Ireland needed to win in Romania and hope other results went their way and also not loose to England in ther final group game in London when they knew a draw would suit both teams. Romania who were 9 games unbeaten at home up until the match and with their hostile fans as the 12th man, Romania were obviously clear favourites. Pat Jennings’ and his defenders (especially the debutant centre-back Alan McDonald) however, hadn’t read the script and with a breakaway goal from Jimmy Quinn (who incidentally was wearing colleague Jim Platts’ boots!) and some heroic defending Northern Ireland had a great victory. A victory which was crucial for qualifying for the 1986 Mexico World Cup.
“…the odds were heavily stacked against us. I suppose I used a bit of subtafuse when I announced before the game in earshot of a Romanian interpreter that we would be playing two wingers and two centre-forwards in a frontal role. Later I told Norman Whiteside he was to play up front for 1½ minutes and get back into midfield. The plan worked perfectly…”
* Trivia –
Goalscorer Jimmy Quinn had to borrow Jim Platts’ boots:
“It was all an amazing mix-up. It started on Saturday before the game in Bucharest. I’d been playing for Blackburn at Millwall and after the match our man Tony Parkes handed me what I thought were my boots and off I went, without checking them, to join up with the Irish squad. It was until I unpacked in my Bucharest hotel room that I realised that although the boots looked the same, one was a size 9 and the other was a size 7.”
“I nearly fainted and I didn’t know what to do, but luckily Jim Platt was able to lend me his boots which were the same size as mine. Jim Platt even offered to sell me the boots after the final whistle, and I nearly too him up on it – just to have them as a souvenir of an incredible moment for me.”