Former Rangers star Mark Hateley said playing for England against Northern Ireland was a “nightmare journey” that opened his eyes to the Troubles.
ou scored the only goal for victory at Windsor Park in February 1985, but admitted he remembers the visit for what happened off the field as much as on it.
Mark (60) said: “I took the ball off my weaker right foot – which I rarely did – and kicked the ball past the huge hands of one of the weaker ones. great goalkeepers of the game, Pat Jennings. But that sums up the confidence I had at the time.
“That night also opened my eyes as it was my first experience of the unrest in Northern Ireland.
“There was hostility throughout the 90 minutes and bottles rained on the pitch at different points in the game.
“And when we tried to get off the ground to catch our flight back to England, we were held up because a car exploded in the parking lot and a bomb exploded near one of the bridges on our way back to there. airport.
“A trip that should have taken 15 minutes took over three hours, and a nightmarish journey was sealed when fog enveloped our destination airport, Luton, and we had to divert to Manchester.”
Hateley was playing for Italian giants AC Milan at the time before taking top honors with Monaco in France under future Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and then becoming a Rangers legend.
In his new book Hitting the Mark, he also paid tribute to the late Glentoran boss Alan McDonald, who was his skipper when they played together for QPR.
He said: “Alan was a great guy. A tall Ranger man – he had a Ranger tattoo on his forearm.
“He was the captain of Northern Ireland and I remember traveling with him to watch an Old Firm game, then going to the SECC later that night to watch Nigel Benn box.”