DESPITE THE REPUBLIC of Ireland senior squad watching the World Cup from their sun drenched villas in Spain or Italy, 1998 was actually a great year for Irish football.
First Brian Kerr led his side to Under-16 European glory before topping the summer off with a win in the U18 championships. In doing so, Ireland became the first county to hold both titles in the same year.
Drawn in a group with Cyprus, Croatia and England, most pundits expected the English to go through but a 3-0 win over Cyprus put Ireland into the final on goal difference.
In the final they faced a much fancied German side who dominated the opening period with Sebastian Kehl missing a couple of glorious chances.
With twenty minutes remaining however, Robbie Keane skipped past two defenders before finding Alan Quinn who shot home from six-yards.
However, the Germans equalised at the death and, after extra-time came and went, the game went to penalties.
Alex O’Reilly saved the first German penalty and things were looking good for Ireland after Ryan Casey, Paul Donnelly and Barry Quinn all scored. With the scores tied at 3-3, Liam George had the tenth and final kick. The then Luton player made no mistake, and Ireland were U18 Champions of Europe.
And here’s how they celebrated: