Men's Team

World Cup A-Z: M is for McCarthy

We continue our A-Z of the World Cup by focusing on City's strapping Irish defender Mick McCarthy...

M is for McCarthy

Though Mick McCarthy never played at a World Cup while a City player, his experiences in the tournament make him a worth inclusion in our A-Z collection.

The strapping Yorkshireman joined the Blues in December 1983 from Barnsley and would play 157 times for City, scoring three goals – one of which was a thumping header against United that earned a 1-1 draw at Maine Road.


BIG MICK: Taking on City, then managed by Stuart Pearce
BIG MICK: Taking on City, then managed by Stuart Pearce


Because of his Irish ancestry, ‘Big Mick’ qualified to play for the Republic of Ireland and would win 57 caps for his country, winning more than 20 while with City.

He had left for Celtic when he represented Ireland and Euro ’88 and eventually became the skipper, leading the Irish in at Italia ’90 where – in their first tournament – only hosts Italy would end their World Cup adventure in the quarter-finals.

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He would go on to win 57 caps all told, but McCarthy’s World Cup adventure was far from over.

Having moved into management will Millwall in 1992, when Jack Charlton stood down as Ireland boss in 1996, it was Big Mick who took over.

He twice came close taking Ireland to two major tournaments (Euro 200 and the 1998 World Cup) before Ireland edged a 2-1 aggregate win over Iran in a play-off to qualify for the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan.

A public spat with Ireland midfielder Roy Keane saw McCarthy send the player home before Ireland’s first game, but even without the influential United star, Ireland progressed through the group stage before being knocked out in the second round after a penalty shoot-out with Spain.

He left his post in November 2002 and returned to club management having been a fantastic servant to Ireland both as player and boss.