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.
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.
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.
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:
A few of us were working in South Korea at the time. No mobiles so after work, I went to the "Internet room" to receive an email from my mother...
"Well the whole country is gone stone mad about Roy Keane being kicked off the team. We have Liveline on here now"
Me ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/ptUZYkNmzt
— Brendan Kenny (@bennykenny78) May 22, 2020
Getting up ridiculously early to listen to the news on the radio for the latest from Saipan. Was with Keane at the time but different view now, he made the wrong call. Still fantastic performance from the team when so easily could’ve folded. Would love to watch Spain game again.
— Tom Sheerin (@TomShrn) May 22, 2020
Not worth engaging in the subject anymore we had a successful tournament without our captain.
— Jmac (@Watsdecraicjmac) May 22, 2020
Was at all 4 games. I know we got further in 1990 but 2002 might have been our best chance ever to get to the semis. If only we knew Spain were down to 10 men. Great games and great craic.
— Mark Cummins (@markjcummins) May 22, 2020
Bittersweet for Ireland. What could have been if they had beaten Spain. Nonetheless Brazil were different gravy to everyone else that year. The Ronaldo show.
— Matthew Riordan (@Riordan_Matt) May 22, 2020
Really looking forward to this, John. What about the reigning world champions at the time, France? Didn’t even score a goal! Argentina also flopped. Turkey and South Korea the surprises. Best WC for me, helped by fact Ireland and England were both there. pic.twitter.com/772Od5Nfk0
— James Duffy (@jjduffy89) May 23, 2020