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Keepers' Week:<br>Pat's Wembley wonder

Posted on 25 March 2005  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

The memories come flooding back for Pat Jennings as Northern Ireland prepare to face England in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday.

Turn the clock back almost 20 years and you'll find one of the best night's in the legendary goalkeeper's career that spanned fully 22 years and 119 international caps.

Wembley Stadium, November 13, 1985. Northern Ireland needed a point to qualify for a second-successive World Cup and did so thanks to fine defensive display with Pat, incredibly aged 40 at the time, at the forefront.

Here are the great man's reflections: "The thing about the 1985 game was that there was a lot of expectancy on us and there shouldn't have been really because we'd done so well in the games leading up to it.

"We beat Turkey 2-0 in Belfast and then drew 0-0 in Turkey. That took us to Romania and beat them 1-0 and they hadn't been beaten in a World Cup match for 20 years or so.

"Everyone was expecting us to get the point we needed against England at Wembley where realistically, we shouldn't be able to live with them.

"Somehow we managed to do it on the night. Kerry Dixon played up front for England, Glenn Hoddle also played. I saved one in the first half and what people didn't realise that half the pitch was frozen, so that made it more difficult for me, at my age!

"Glenn hit one in the top corner in the first half but I managed to get up and turn it away. I wasn't great hitting the ground from that height at my age!

"I made another save later on from Kerry Dixon which was important. He got a header in and Allan Macdonald was in front of me and I was concerned that he wouldn't think I was getting there and handball it. I could see it that split-second and thought 'please don't handle it, I'm getting there'. Thankfully he didn't and I did!

"We had a fairly decent team at that time, we weren't giving goals away and I think I kept six clean sheets on the trot around that time.

"In fact, the only one we gave away was against England in Belfast. If you are not giving goals away you have a chance, we were well organised so we tried to keep a clean sheet and with big lads in the side, hopefully nick one from a set-piece."

It meant Pat went to a second World Cup finals at the age of 40 the following year with Northern Ireland looking to match their heroics in Spain 1982, where they famously beat the host nation.

"They were great days for us," added Pat. "I went into the Northern Ireland squad at 18 and I'd been trying for World Cups right up to 1982.

"I think I was 36 at the time and you do tend to think it would pass you by.

"It wasn't until I got to Spain in 1982 and played against the top teams in the world that I realised what I'd missed out on. Luckily, I experienced it before the end of my career."