By Mark Jones
DUBLIN — Irish soccer’s governing body, the FAI, is to investigate startling revelations that Tony Cascarino, who appeared in 88 international games and scored 19 goals, was in fact ineligible to play for the Republic of Ireland.
"I didn’t qualify for Ireland, I was a fake Irishman, a fraud," Cascarino admitted last weekend.
When he first came into the international squad in 1985, Cascarino believed he was eligible through his Wesport, Co. Mayo-born maternal grandfather, Michael O’Malley, and he was cleared to play by the FAI. But due to a change of rules in 1995, Cascarino was asked to produce his Irish passport.
He called to his mother’s house in London, England, to arrange the documents he needed to apply for a passport, only for his mother to tell him that she had been adopted and wasn’t in fact an O’Malley.
Although Cascarino confided in his teammates Andy Townsend, Niall Quinn and Steve Staunton, he decided to say nothing and mysteriously was later granted a passport. Now there are bound to be questions as to how his application was successfully processed.
It is possible that the FAI might remove Cascarino’s name from the record books and seek the return of the £300,000 he made from his testimonial game in May of this year.
"No one has any great desire to take anything away from Tony," said Bernard O’Byrne, the FAI’s chief executive, "but there are certainly issues that need to be discussed."
However, sanctions seem unlikely as Cascarino never set out to deceive anyone.
"I don’t know how people are going to take it and what’s going to happen now," said the player, who announced his international retirement earlier in the year, "but I’d want people to know that I’m very proud to consider myself Irish."
The revelations concerning Cascarino are soon to be published in the player’s autobiography, "Full Time: The Secret Life of Tony Cascarino," written with Sunday Independent journalist Paul Kimmage.
Former international manager Jack Charlton said Cascarino should have kept the revelations to himself.
"There was no reason to say it, there was no reason to admit it," Charlton said. "Why did he have to mention it in the first place?"