Q is for Quinn
Over the course of a stellar 19-year top level career, Niall Quinn established himself as one of English football’s most durable and effective striking talents.
Having made his senior bow with Arsenal at the tender age of 17, Quinn subsequently made the move to Manchester City in 1990 joining the club in an £800,000 deal under Howard Kendall.
Though at times hampered by injury, the 6ft 4in Irishman still more than proved his worth for the Blues between 1990 and 1996, going to make more than 200 appearances for the Club, scoring more than 70 goals in all competitions.
He also enjoyed an illustrious international career with the Republic of Ireland between 1986 and 2002, winning 92 caps and scoring 21 goals, making him Ireland’s second highest goal-scorer of all-time.
During that time Quinn featured in some of the Republic’s most memorable occasions, being an integral part of the squad which appeared at both the 1990 and 2002 World Cup finals as well as at the 1988 European Championships.
But it was at Italia 90 that Quinn and his Irish colleagues arguably enjoyed their finest-ever moments as Jack Charlton’s team defied the odds to march all the way to the quarter-finals.
Quinn was an unused substitute for Ireland’s opening game, a 1-1 draw with England, before coming off the bench for a subsequent goalless draw with Egypt.
He was then drafted into the starting line-up for Ireland’s group decider against Holland where he made a crucial impact, scoring a 71st minute goal to both cancel out Ruud Gullit’s early opener and book Ireland’s place through to the knockout stages.
Quinn and Co’s reward was a last-16 clash with Romania in Genoa where, after a tense 90 minutes and extra-time had ended goalless, the tie went to a penalty shoot-out.
The Irish held their nerve to secure a memorable 5-4 win to set-up a quarter-final clash with hosts Italy in Rome.
Quinn was again handed a starting place in a close-fought clash at the Stadio Olimpico but Ireland’s unforgettable World Cup odyssey finally came to an end with Toto Schillaci’s early goal settling the match.
Though Quinn was to miss Ireland’s 1994 World Cup finals campaign through injury, he was to enjoy a final hurrah on the biggest stage of all in 2002 when Ireland made it to South Korea and Japan by which time he was playing his club football with Sunderland.
Though then 35, Quin brought all his vast experience and know-how to bear as the Irish navigated their way through the group stages – drawing 1-1 with eventual runners-up Germany along the way – before going out 3-2 on penalties to Spain after their last-16 clash had ended in a 1-1 draw.