Introducing ‘Italia ’90 – One Day at a Time’

Image: @Italia90odat

At face value, this hasn’t anything to do with Mayo GAA. Scratch the surface, though, and you’ll find there are plenty of Mayo GAA connections. It’s for this reason, allied to the fact that the driving force behind this initiative is my good friend and podcast buddy Rob Murphy, that I want to let you know about it on the blog.

So, ladies and gentlemen let me introduce you to a new podcast called Italia ’90 – One Day at a Time. As the title suggests, it’s a podcast series with an unabashed nostalgic focus, concentrating as it does on the World Cup tournament that was contested in Italy thirty years ago this summer.

Everyone the wrong side of forty will have clear memories of Italia ’90, the first World Cup tournament that Ireland qualified for and whose exploits sent the whole country into a state of collective delirium. From an Irish perspective, the Italia ’90 story is all about Jack Charlton and his put-’em-under-pressure band of artisans but the tournament was about far more than that, sizzling as it did with all kinds of sub-plots and populated by so many legendary names in world soccer.

I was living in London then and so the Italia ’90 I remember is suffused with memories not just about Ireland’s exploits but also about an England team that went further in the tournament than the country’s side had done at the World Cup since winning it on home soil in 1966. The fragments of memories I can recall with ease include their semi-final shootout defeat to eventual winners West Germany, Gazza’s tears and, of course, the spine-tingling strains of Nessun Dorma.

Pucchini’s haunting aria, performed by Luciano Pavarotti, was the BBC’s theme music for its Italia ’90 coverage. Listening to it again now catapults me back to that summer in London, to the pub in the Square Mile where we watched the Ireland/Romania match, the relief and the joy I felt when David O’Leary whacked that final penalty to the net and we were in the quarters. Then later that night as word filtered through about the IRA bombing of the Carlton Club came the reminder that those times could never be ones of an unalloyed carefree nature for Irish people living in England.

But what a summer it was and what memories are stored there, waiting to be coaxed back to life. Italia ’90 – One Day at a Time will certainly help you do this.

Joining Rob on the podcast are Ciaran O’Hara, Billy Joe Padden and a host of others. Would it surprise you to learn that Billy Joe speaks with the same kind of authority about soccer matches played thirty years ago as he does about Gaelic football nowadays? Well, he does. Wait ’till you hear him.

The plan for this podcast series is that every day a match was played in the tournament there’ll be a podcast episode covering that day’s action. Italia ’90 got underway on 8th June 1990, which means that Episode 1 goes online tomorrow. Here’s a short preview episode, which gives you an idea about what to expect.

Italia 90 – One Day at a Time will be hosted on and will be available on Spotify. If you follow the show’s Twitter feed @Italia90odat you’ll get early notice of each new episode as it goes online. Okey doke?

The best of luck to Rob and the lads for this new podcast venture. I don’t know about the rest of you but I’ll definitely be tuning into it over the coming month.

6 thoughts on “Introducing ‘Italia ’90 – One Day at a Time’

  1. I have fond memories indeed of Italia 90 which alas means I must be the wrong side of 40. I was about 15 that Summer and was looking forward to a long season supporting Mayo after the highs of 89 and my first two visits to Croke Park however Galway in Tuam had other ideas on a wet May Sunday and a buck called Hugh Bleahen frustrated us all day Long. So a few weeks later Italia 90 took the sting out of our GAA summer cut short. Well done on the podcast Rob, looking forward to it.

  2. @ Backdoorsam. If memory serves me correctly we were knocked out of the championship the day after Italy beat us 1-0. June 30th/July 1st. I’d be a similar age to yourself. A miserable weekend.The Mayo defeat in Tuam by far the worst result of the two. No “backdoors” those days.

  3. You could be right near hand in as I said I’m the wrong side of 40! And a lot of Heineken has passed the lips since then which they tell me isn’t good for the brain cells But the way I remembered it the World Cup came after. Anyway it was certainly a miserable day when Galway beat us, after the highs of the year before we were all hoping we’d land Sam for sure in ‘90 God help our sense.

  4. We had a lot of hope in 1990 but it came to an abrupt end that day. According to the archive Mayo played Galway in Tuam on July 1st 1990. The World Cup began on June 8th and we went out on June 30th. We went out to Galway in May 1998……that was a longer Summer for Us! Also a World Cup Year. We were not involved though.

  5. Looking forward to these podcasts. I’m the wrong side of 40 too…had just just finished 1st year in secondary school.

    Luckily for me, I was in Genoa. Behind the goals! I rem being so nervous for the penalties, I couldn’t watch!! It was like a home game for us, the stadium decked out in green. A few hundred Romanians, at best.

    Too young to go on the lash, the best I could get post-match was driving back to our hotel 20 mins away with the green flag out the window.

    In many ways I missed out on the delirium by actually being there!? Sheedys equaliser v England…was in ireland for that in my friends house. Mental.

    We could have won that World Cup.

  6. I watched that penalty shootout win in the Suffolk house, Suffolk St.Dublin.(wonder if it’s still there). One of the most mental nights ever! Watched Schilachi send us home in Burkes pub, Irishtown….a completely different scale of mental. Great great days.

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