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WORLD CUP 2002 REVISITED | Saipan, Irish what-ifs, Ronaldo magic

Joseph Conroy
Joseph Conroy

14:43 23 May 2020

This week on World Cup Revisited, John Duggan, Dan McDonnell and Johnny Ward look back at the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea - the last time Ireland made it to international football's biggest stage.

It's a tournament that spilt the Irish fan-base between the Roy Keane and anti-Roy Keane camps as the captain was sent home following a clash with Mick McCarthy at Ireland's Saipan training camp.

saipan 16 June 2002; Republic of Ireland players, from left, Damien Duff, Matt Holland, Robbie Keane, Steve Finnan, Kevin Kilbane, Mark Kinsella, Niall Quinn and Kenny Cunningham, watch on during the penalty shoot out with Spain. FIFA World Cup Finals, 2nd Round, Republic of Ireland v Spain, Suwon World cup stadium, Suwon, Korea. Soccer. Cup2002. Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSFILE *EDI*

On the pitch, Ireland were one penalty kick away from a quarterfinal date with the USA.

The draw could have seen the team get another crack at the Germans in the semi-finals.

WORLD CUP 2002 REVISITED | Saipan, Irish what-ifs, Ronaldo magic

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Saipan 5 June 2002; Former Republic of Ireland Manager Jack Charlton watches the Republic of Ireland v Germany match in the FIFA World Cup Finals. RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit Aoife Rice / SPORTSFILE

Defeating Spain in at the Round of 16 stage could have emulated the heroics of Jack Charlton's team in 1990 - and Mick's team would have done it playing a much more attractive brand of football.

Ronaldo's World Cup

Ultimately, the final was contested by Germany and Brazil, with a Ronaldo brace bringing the trophy back to South America.

The Brazilian legend and Robbie Keane were the only players to score against that German side during the whole tournament.

Saipan Brazil's Ronaldo celebrates scoring the opening goal

Ronaldo put the ghosts of the 1998 final to rest, scoring 8 goals at the tournament (while supporting that iconic 'fringe' hair cut).

Ahead of our chat, we asked for your 2002 memories:

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