Meeting the Pope

The Pope and Me

Pope John Paul II, Jack Charlton and Me

In 1990 I was one of 22 players to be selected for the Republic of Ireland, for the World Cup Finals in Italy. Some of the other players were Paul McGrath, Ronnie Whelan, John Aldridge and Packie Bonner.

The manager at the time was big Jack Charlton, World Cup winner with England as a player back in 1966. Jack originated from the North East of England and managed Newcastle United for a brief spell and Middlesbrough where he guided them to the 2nd Division title in 1973.

During our tour of Italy for the finals Jack was asked by the kit man if he could arrange a visit to see the Pope. Jack obliged and on one of our days off we ended up in the Vatican, every player and staff attended. The following day I was told I was in every national paper back in England, at first I thought I was on the move from the club only to be told, I was alongside Jack Charlton and the Pope himself.

As a devout Catholic to meet and be so close to the late great Pope John Paul, will live in my memory forever.