Stig Inge Bjornebye's view of...

Soccer

Stig Inge Bjornebye's view of Ireland vs Norway 25 years on is just like everyone else's

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

03:39 27 Jun 2019


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Most of us remember where we were when Ireland beat Italy at USA 94. But how about the Norway game?

The way that World Cup went for the Boys in Green, Ireland's tournament sloped into decline. So you'd be forgiven for overlooking almost everything after the 2-1 loss to Mexico in the literal boiling atmosphere of Orlando.

From the high of winning a first ever World Cup match within 90 minutes against one of the global elite, the rap sheet then read defeat, draw and chastening defeat.

But it was the draw against Norway on June 28th 1994 which sealed Ireland's place in the last-16 at the former's expense. It was the most even group you could imagine in its outcome. Italy, Mexico, Ireland and Norway all finished on four points and with the possibility of three teams progressing to the knockout rounds, it meant one side would find themselves the unlucky loser. Indeed, it's the only group in World Cup history in which every team finished on the same points and same goal difference.

Ireland team, Norway Ireland team group

As it happened, John Aldridge's late consolation against Mexico meant Ireland went into that Norway game knowing a draw would be enough due to a better goals-scored record. And so it proved, the eventual 0-0 draw was enough for Jack Charlton's side. Norway, on the other hand needed a win or at least a high-score draw.

Classic? Nope!

The match itself featured two nations that can look back on the 1990s with some fondness when it comes to mixing it with the world's best. But it also featured two sides that were incredibly direct in terms of playing style.

That of course would not lend itself to being a classic. That's the memory of a recent Team 33 interviewee.

Former Liverpool and Blackburn left-back Stig Inge Bjornebye started against Ireland. And besides the disappointment of exiting USA 94 by the narrowest of margins, his biggest takeaway was how dull the game was.

"I've only got one memory of the game," Bjornebye told Jonathan Higgins and I.

"It was really dull (followed by a hearty chuckle). It was poor, really poor. Neither of the teams seemed able to create the chances they needed to win. I don't remember the details but I do remember it must have been a terrible game to watch."

He also told us about building future friendships with the Irish lads who would later play for Liverpool. Two are pictured above, both second on the left on each row.

Phil Babb joined Liverpool two months after that Norway match, while Jason McAteer became a team-mate a year later.

"Babbsy and McAteer were good friends. Great guys and a good laugh," Bjornebye recalled.

"I really enjoyed playing in that team. We had luxury players in the middle, so Jason and me had to do all the running. Which we did.

"And I think we connected really well because we understood each other's role. Obviously, we had the same role on each side in terms of how much running was involved both ways."

At least, one good thing - indirectly admittedly - came out of that game so!

Full podcast of that Bjornebye interview on Team 33 is here.

Subscribe to Off The Ball's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.


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Football Ireland Jason McAteer Norway Off The Ball Stig Inge Bjornebye Team 33 USA 94 World Cup

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