Peter Schmeichel is the cover star of Football Europe in the early months of 1998, as the magazine looks at the season so far across Europe.

There are four pages dedicated to the draw for Euro 2000, with all nine groups being previewed.

Getting just the three pages is Lillian Thuram, who will be joined at Parma by Faustino Asprilla, who returned to the club from Newcastle United this month.

There are six pages dedicated to the season so far in Europe, in all the major leagues.

Meanwhile in France, Basile Boli has been forced to retire as a result of a head injury while Sean Dundee wants to leave Kalrsruhe after a poor run of form.

Mouscron are making a complaint to UEFA after they weren’t allowed to play a home UEFA Cup tie against Metz in Lille.

As preparation for the World Cup nears, it has emerged that Scottish FA officials have booked flights home two days after their last group match, while Andy Hunt of West Bromwich Albion could be heading to the World Cup with Austria, after his Austrian Granny contacted Austria’s manager.


Bryan Robson is the cover star of the first World Soccer of 1986, a year he hopes will bring him glory for club and country, neither of which have celebrated glory since the 1960s.

The draw for the 1986 World Cup has taken place, the first World Cup where final group games are played simultaneously, amid complaints of travelling between stadiums.

This draw gets plenty of coverage. The group stages sees Italy and Argentina paired together, the 4th successive World Cup they would meet each other.

There is a feature on Canada captain Bruce Wilson, who finds himself without a club six months before the tournament, while Morocco get a profile.

There is a double page report on Juventus, who have just won the World Club after beating Argentinos Juniors on penalties.

There is a feature on European Cup Quarter-Finalists Steau Bucharest.

In Austria, Bruno Pezzey has been appointed captain of the national side, as they aim to qualify for Euro 88.

In England, it looked like Manchester United were going to run away with the title, but have been pulled back by Liverpool after a series of bad results.

Malcolm Allison has the World Cup on his mind, but the 1990 one, having been appointed manager of Kuwait.

In Turkey, there is unrest at Fenerbache, with players protesting at bonuses that were promised to the squad not being paid.


November 2018’s football watching began with a trip to Windsor Park with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield scrape a late draw at home to Warrenpoint Town.

It didn’t get much better the following Saturday, as I headed back to Windsor Park to see Linfield lose to Coleraine.

The weekend after, was a double header, the first of which was a first trip to The Brandywell, to see Linfield take on Institute. The next day, I headed to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Austria in the UEFA Nations League.

The following weekend, it was yet another trip to Windsor Park, but finally a home win, as an Andrew Waterworth hat-trick saw off Cliftonville.

My football watching for the month ended with a midweek trip to Old Trafford to see Manchester United take on BSC Young Boys in the European Cup, my first visit to Old Trafford of the season.

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Linfield v Coleraine

Institute v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Austria

Northern Ireland v Austria Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys Photo Album


November 2018 began for me with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield scrape a late draw at home to Warrenpoint Town.

From Warrenpoint to Waterford, as the following week I spent a few days in Waterford seeing Waterford Walls, with a brief stop-off in Dublin.

The day after my return to Belfast, it was back to Windsor Park to see Linfield lose to Coleraine.

The following weekend, a new ground for me to visit for the first time, as I headed to The Brandywell to see Linfield take on Institute.

The day after, it was a return to Windsor Park, and another bad home result, as Northern Ireland lost to Austria in the UEFA Nations League.

On the following weekend, I headed to The Limelight to see Cast in concert.

That was then followed by a good home result at Windsor Park, as Linfield beat Cliftonville 4-2.

I then headed to Manchester for a few days, to see United take on BSC Young Boys and get some Street Art photos.

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Waterford Walls

Waterford Walls Photo Album

Linfield v Coleraine

Institute v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Austria

Northern Ireland v Austria Photo Album

Cast live at The Limelight

Cast live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album


It was a tale of two 0-0s for Northern Ireland and Austria going into this game, and it suited neither team.

While Northern Ireland were drawing 0-0 in a friendly with the Republic of Ireland on the Thursday before this, the real match that mattered that night was in Vienna, where Austria drew 0-0 with Bosnia-Herzegovina.

That result meant that the Bosnians won the group and got promoted to League A, the point for Austria put them out of reach of Northern Ireland, meaning that instead of this match deciding who would avoid relegation, it would effectively reduce this match to a friendly, now that Northern Ireland were relegated to League C.

Northern Ireland, like myself, have history with Austria. They’ve never met in a friendly, the first meeting coming in the 1982 World Cup, and then in three of the next four European Championship Qualifiers.

Northern Ireland dominated the head to heads in those three campaigns, winning four and drawing one of the six meetings. The three meetings since had seen two Austrian wins and a draw.

My own history with Austria goes back to 1991, and my first Northern Ireland match. Sort of.

I pestered my dad enough the night the two sides met that he eventually agreed to take me down to Windsor Park for the second-half. I didn’t see a goal, as the full-time score remained the same as the half-time score, 2-1 to Northern Ireland.

Fast forward four years, and it was my first proper Northern Ireland match, a 5-3 win in the Qualifiers for Euro 96. One of the goalscorers that night was Michael O’Neill, now Northern Ireland manager.

All else I remember about that game was that Neil Lennon missed a glorious chance to score, as I had to report back to a friend that the goalscoring machine of his Rangers midfield on Championship Manager wasn’t as good a finisher in real life. Also, that it rained non stop that night.

That isn’t my only time seeing Austria, as I saw them on their next visit to Windsor Park, a 3-3 draw in a World Cup Qualifier in 2004.

You have to admire a team that can score three goals against Northern Ireland and fail to win. And then do it again.

I’ve always had a thing for the Austrian team. Their kit always seemed brilliant, and then there was their goalkeeper kit at Italia 90, and of course, the legend that is Toni Polster, and Andy Herzog, who was recently at Windsor Park as manager of Israel.

It was probably apt that someone called Herzog should lead Israel in Belfast.

It was a case of unnecessary use of away kit for Austria, but since they reversed their colours in the 00s, I wasn’t too unhappy to see them wearing white/black/white.

Like Luton Town, I’ll never get used to Austria not wearing white.

Since their last World Cup in 1998, it has hardly been glorious times for Austria, only “Qualifying” for one tournament since – Euro 2016 (they played in Euro 2008 but qualified automatically as co-hosts)

They blitzed their way to France, winning nine out of ten games but ultimately disappointed when they got there, finishing bottom (as second seeds) in a group containing Hungary and Iceland.

Northern Ireland took the opportunity to make some changes to their starting eleven, which included five former Irish League players in the starting eleven.

The one positive about the Nations League has been blooding new players into the team such as Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Jamal Lewis, Jordan Jones, Gavin Whyte and George Saville into the team, as well as Liam Boyce getting an extended run of games.

There are a lot of players in the Northern Ireland squad in their 30s. Our youngest keeper at Euro 2016 was 32. Aaron Hughes, Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley, Michael Smith, Craig Cathcart, Steven Davis, Niall McGinn, Kyle Lafferty and Jamie Ward will all be in their 30s by the time the Euro 2020 Qualifiers come around. Two of them will be approaching 40.

Chris Brunt and Chris Baird’s international careers are over and it’s highly unlikely that Roy Carroll will ever play for Northern Ireland again.

A rebuild will be needed over the coming years. We would be left behind if we didn’t have young players coming through.

It would have been nice if Bobby Burns and Paul Smyth were involved, having got call-ups for this game, and added the Irish League alumni in the matchday squad by three by joining Gavin Whyte on the bench.

After a slow start, Northern Ireland had the first chance of the game when Corry Evans had a shot deflect over the bar. Later, brother Jonny looked to have missed an opportunity to score when a flick on fell to him, but he was judged offside.

There was one moment that summed up Northern Ireland’s overplay. They had a corner on the left, and Steven Davis ran half the length of the pitch for a short corner. An Austrian tracked him as it was so obvious, and when the ball was in play, the attack died quickly, much to the crowd’s frustration. All the defenders were up, the ball had to be whipped in.

Austria had a few opportunities, but nothing to worry Trevor Carson, as Northern Ireland finished the half with a Niall McGinn free-kick going just wide.

At the start of the second-half, Austria took the lead when Xaver Schlager scored. Oh no, here we go again.

But, Northern Ireland dusted themselves down and recovered, and got an equaliser when a shot from Corry Evans deflected in. Finally, a stroke of luck.

Northern Ireland now sensed they could win the game, with Geroge Saville hitting a shot just wide.

Kyle Lafferty and Gavin Whyte came on for Liam Boyce and Niall McGinn as they chased the winner.

As they did so in stoppage time, an Austrian counter attack saw Valentino Lozaro curl a winner five seconds over the allotted two minutes of injury time. The same old story.

Even though the Nations League has been a success overall doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. We should be starting straight into Qualifiers in the September after a World Cup.

It’s fair to say, Northern Ireland’s first experience of this competition hasn’t been a good one. Relegation is a setback, but not a disaster. We can recover from this. The ultimate goal is Euro 2020.

The main positives have been new players being able to be brought into the team. Hopefully, we’ve used up all our bad luck. We lost four games and didn’t deserve to lose any of them. Keep performing like this, and we will get our rewards.

The Finals will be held in Portugal. I doubt i’ll be going as the only direct flights to Portugal from Northern Ireland is to Faro, nowhere near the two host cities.

If UEFA want to give this tournament more prestige, why not have a Finals tournament for Leagues B, C and D with a trophy on offer? I doubt Sweden, Denmark, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Ukraine would turn their noses up at hosting and/or winning an international competition.

Attention now turns to the Euro 2020 draw in Dublin on December 3rd. From Pot 1, England would be a very handy trip (Remember, from March 2019, we’ll be able to travel fuck all anywhere because of you know what) but there’s nobody you’d ideally take from a football point of view.

Pot 2, Wales for the trip, but Iceland, Russia and Ukraine look the most beatable.,

Pot 4, Lithuania or Georgia.

Pot 5, Gibraltar, Faroe Islands or Moldova.

Pot 6, if we are in a six team group, all of them should be beaten.

No tournament was always going to make it hard to assess 2018 for Northern Ireland. In terms of PWDL, it was disappointing, but you get the feeling that 2018 will be viewed by how the results in 2019 go.

It appears there is nothing to stop Northern Ireland facing Austria or Bosnia-Herzegovina again. If both of them qualify automatically, we automatically go into the Play-Offs.

Here’s a scenario. Northern Ireland are in a group with Austria or Bosnia-Herzegovina. The team not in a group with Northern Ireland qualify from their group. It’s Matchday 10 and Austria or Bosnia-Herzegovina arrive at Windsor Park needing a draw or a win to secure 2nd place against a Northern Ireland team languishing in 4th or 5th with no chance of 2nd.

Theoretically, Northern Ireland will benefit from losing a match.

This could happen in any group of Euro 2020 with any team that got relegated in the UEFA Nations League.

I think i’ve spotted a flaw in the UEFA Nations League format.

Hopefully, this time next year, we’ll all be celebrating automatic qualification without the need for Play-Offs.

Photo Album


Today at Wembley, an expensively assembled and underachieving Manchester United side with a manager under pressure and living in the shadow of a retired Scottish legend arrive at Wembley to take on Crystal Palace in the FA Cup Final, hoping that winning the FA Cup will be the springboard to an era of success.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve been here before, in 1990.

As supporters sat in front of their TVs with only four channels, unless you had one of those new on the market satellie dishes, it’s possible they may have been reading Shoot’s preview, which had a split cover of Brian McClair and Ian Wright as Manchester United face Crystal Palace.

As you open the magazine, Shoot has full page profiles on central defenders set to be involved, with Andy Thorn of Palace prepared to play through the pain barrier, and Gary Pallister of United aiming to prove he won’t be a flop at United, after a British Record transfer from Middlesbrough.

In news, Celtic manager Billy McNeill is planning a clear out in the summer, while Manchester United are planning to sign Denis Irwin from Oldham Athletic, who Shoot have erroneously described as a Dubliner.

Bray Wanderers will be facing St Francis in the FAI Cup Final at Lansdowne Road, the game moved from Dalymount Park after the FAI anticipated Derry City to win their Semi-Final against Bray.

Midfielders aren’t ignored in the game at Wembley, with Shoot doing a profile of Bryan Robson and Andy Gray.

Celtic are facing Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup Final, and Shoot does a full page profile on Jacki Dzieckanowski, where he reveals his favourite band is Dire Straits.

Aberdeen are represented with a full page profile of Brian Irvine, who talks about his Christianity.

After scoring winning goals in the 3rd Round and Semi-Final, Mark Robins gets profiled.

In world news, Bayern Munich became the first German club to be floated on the Stock Exchange.

Austria are this week’s preview ahead of the World Cup in Italy, mostly focusing on Toni Polster.

Curiously, Shoot does a double page interview with Mark Bright and Ian Wright as they go out for a cycle.

Liam Brady gets profiled ahead of Republic Of Ireland’s friendly against Finland, but his appearance will only be symbolic, as it is a farewell in his own testimonial, having retired from international football the previous September.

It won’t stop him going to Italy, as he’ll be going to the World Cup as a pundit for RTE.

David Rocastle talks to Shoot about his frustration at injuries leading to his loss of form. The article is accompanied by a competition where you can win The Rocky Road To Success, a VHS tape profiling David Rocastle.

Liverpool’s recent title success gets profiled, with Alan Hansen claiming the club can dominate English football for the next twenty years.

The magazine ends with a double page profile of Scotland ahead of the World Cup in Italy.