Fears that their larynxes might give up come show-time proved to be unfounded. Truth be told I was determined to slip out of the ground early before it dawned on me that something very special was taking place. We were four-nil down and the penny had well and truly dropped that the 11 men on the pitch, with the best will in the world could not match the craft of Spain, no more than the rebels on the streets of Dublin in 1916 could hold out against the might of the British army.
Translating the commentary as I watched, I suddenly recognised the English words “fair play” being used over and over again. The Portuguese could not stop congratulating the Irish fans on their sense of “fair play” and they were quite blown away by the cheerful and good-humoured singing coming from the Irish stands. Talk about positivity. If we could bottle it . . . we would see the tiger rise again!
Travessa Da Encosta,
Sao Romao, Leiria,