In this article we highlight five players that earned a solitary cap for the boys in green. With some surprising names on the list!
5. Jim Goodwin
The current Dundee United manager was born in Tramore and played for Celtic, Stockport County, Scunthorpe United (where he won the League One title), Huddersfield Town, Hamilton Athletic, Oldham Athletic, St Mirren and Alloa Athletic. Goodwin played at various underage levels for Ireland (including at under-16 level at the 1996 UEFA Under-16 Football Championship). A captain of the under-21’s before he made his debut, at full international level, he earned his one cap coming on as substitute for Robbie Keane in a 3-0 friendly win against Finland in Helsinki in August 2002. He was also capped once for the Ireland B team.
4. Mike Milligan
Mike Milligan will be remembered for his role in Joe Royle’s famous Oldham Athletic team that reached the League Cup Final in 1990, two FA Cup semi finals and were founding members of the Premier League. Milligan also had a one-year sojourn at Everton during his Oldham career. In 1994 he joined Norwich City (where he stayed until 2000) and then he moved on to Blackpool before retiring in 2002. Born in Manchester, Milligan made his only appearance for Ireland (as a sub for Denis Irwin) in their 4-1 win over the USA at Lansdowne Road in April 1992.
3. Richie Sadlier
The Dubliner played for Leicester Celtic and Belvedere before joining Millwall in 1996 where he made 103 appearances (scoring 34 goals). Sadly, his career was cut short at the age of 24 due to a hip injury. Sadlier played at the 1997 UEFA European Under-18 Championship and scored Ireland’s goal against Spain in the third-placed play off. His only cap at senior level came against Russia in Dublin in February 2002. A well-respected pundit and media personality, Sadlier has also written a book called “Recovering” which won the Irish Sports Book of the year award in 2019.
2. Owen Coyle
Born in Paisley, Coyle began his playing career at Dunbarton. He also played at Clydebank and Airdrieonians before moving to England and Bolton Wanderers in 1993. He returned to Scotland and competed for the likes of Motherwell, Falkirk, St Johnstone and Dunfermline Athletic. Coyle has carved out a long career in Management. In his first full season in charge at Burnley he won promotion to the Premier League in 2009. He then made a move to Bolton Wanderers. After a spell in charge of Wigan Athletic, he was made Head Coach of Houston Dynamo in 2014. There then followed spells in charge of Blackburn Rovers, Ross County, Chennaiyin and Jamshedpur (both in the Indian Super League) and Queens Park (in 2022). Coyle is currently back in charge at Chennaiyin for a second time. Coyle made his one and only appearance for Ireland in a friendly against the Netherlands at Tilburg in April 1994. Ireland won 1-0 with Coyle coming on as a late substitute for goal scorer Tommy Coyne.
1. Joe Lapira
Quite simply a cult hero. Forever famous for that headband! Born in Rochester, New York, Lapira qualifies for Ireland through his mother. He came to the attention of Manager Steve Staunton through Lapira’s uncle, who worked at the FAI. Lapira earned his cap in May 2007 in a game against Ecuador at the Giants Stadium in New York (coming on in the 86th minute), and thus became the first amateur player to represent Ireland since Willie Browne in 1964. He went on to play in the lower leagues in Norway (for Nybergsund) and for the Indian League 2nd Division side United Sikkim FC. Lapira is now back in his native US and has a career selling medical supplies. Mention the name of Joe Lapira and you may get a laugh, but lets be honest, we’d all love to have won even one cap for the boys in green – so fair play Joe!