One of the most iconic Ireland goal celebrations is Ray Houghton’s goal against Italy at the USA 94 World Cup. Ireland beat Italy 1-0 in the Giants Stadium New York. Alongside Houghton is Terry Phelan, completed shocked with joy. Born in Salford, a tough part of Manchester to an Irish mammy from Sligo. Phelan still get’s a little annoyed when people question or questioned his Irishness, so what better stage and moment is there to revel in your Irishness then been part of a world Cup team that has just beaten a heavyweight team like Italy?
Phelan was a pacy and brave right back that would be very much en vogue with today’s full throttle full backs that are as much wingers as defenders.
Phelan made his debut against Hungary in 1991 and he tells the Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman podcast a hilarious story where Jack Charlton’s assistant Maurice Setters rang him up to tell him to fly to Dublin. Phelan hung up thinking it was one of his team-mates from Wimbledon FC, Vinnie Jones or Denis Wise winding him up. Setters called back, so Phelan hung up again. Setters called again and warned him if he hung up one more time, he would never play for Ireland ever, Jack then spoke to him then. Phelan was still unsure and had to ask again is this Really Jack and Maurice? Finally, he believed them.
He played 42 times for Ireland with obviously World Cup USA ’94 the highlight, where he played 3 games at the tournament.
Phelan’s had more clubs than most players, and he will be mostly remembered for his playing career at Wimbledon, known at the time as the Crazy Gang (listen to the podcast for some hilarious stories). His club career highlight was beating the brilliant Liverpool team in the 1988 Fa Cup. Wimbledon’s win was one, if not the biggest upset of the FA Cup. He also made 104 appearances for his hometown team Manchester City. After finishing playing in England he wanted to travel the world so he played for Charleston Battery in the USA, and after that had three years in New Zealand as player and coach with Otago United it was from his time in New Zealand.
Here is Phelan’s long list of clubs. Leeds United, Swansea City, Wimbledon, Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Sheffield United, Charleston Battery, Otago United. He has played with a lot of clubs with good odds placed on his next club moves with the existing bookmakers at the time. Now, with the increasing development of this market, new bookmakers have appeared, in which Betiton, which specialises in sport spread betting in Ireland and offers live odds to make sport betting easier for each football fan.
While in New Zealand he was offered a job in India and where he now worked fro various clubs across India, from Goa to Kerala to Bangalore today. He even managed some of the teams too. Most jobs he was overseeing their coaching facilities.
What is he up to now?
Still in India of course, he went to his current club South City located in Bangalore. The South City project has seen Phelan building up the foundations of the coaching set up while the club has grown alongside football in India. Phelan describes the set up there as fantastic and as good as you’ll find anywhere in the world.
Any plans after this
Phelan has mentioned in the podcast and in an interview with Balls.ie in 2019 that he would like to coach in Ireland. So maybe Ireland will complete the full circle from his mother departure in the 60’s to her beautiful son’s return there in the 2020s, in his varied and colourful adventure around the world.
Words Adam Chamilou