Irish Footballers that Played for Liverpool - Ray Houghton
Ray Houghton - Introduction
Ray Houghton was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 9 January 1962. Houghton was a busy, high energy, midfielder and had established his reputation while playing for Oxford United. It was while playing for Oxford that newly appointed Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton gave him his first Irish cap. With this elevated profile Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish moved to sign him for the Anfield club in late 1987 for a fee of £825,000.
Ray Houghton & Liverpool
Ray Houghton made his Liverpool debut on 24 October 1987 against Luton Town. It was a winning debut as Liverpool won 0-1 at Kenilworth Road. Fellow Irishmen Ronnie Whelan, John Aldridge and Mark Lawrenson were in the Reds' squad that day. Houghton went on to make a total of 35 appearances that season including seven in an FA Cup campaign that saw Liverpool reach the final at Wembley.
Unfortunately for Houghton the other team in the final, Wimbledon, created a major upset by beating Liverpool 1-0 through a Lawrie Sanchez goal. He did have the, not insignificant, consolation of claiming a League Title winners medal as Liverpool won the First Division by nine points ahead of Manchester United.
Ray Houghton made 52 appearances in the following season as Liverpool yet again came within a whisker of a League and Cup double. This time they won the FA Cup with a 3-2 victory over Merseyside rivals Everton but lost out on the League title with what was almost the last kick if the season. A last minute Michael Thomas goal for Arsenal in the last match of the season at Anfield allowed the Londoners to snatch the title. Arsenal and Liverpool ended up with the same number of points and the same goal difference but Arsenal took the title by virtue of the fact that they scored more goals in the League than Liverpool.
Ray Houghton's Goals for Liverpool
During his Liverpool career Ray Houghton scored 38 goals in 202 appearances in all competitions. He scored his first goal for Liverpool on 4 November 1987 just two minutes after coming on as a substitute against Wimbledon at Plough Lane. Houghton's first goal for Liverpool at Anfield came almost three weeks later. He scored the second goal as the Reds beat Watford 3-0. Houghton's last goal for Liverpool was against Ipswich Town at Anfield Road on 26 February 1992 in a 3-2 win in the FA Cup fifth round.
Ray Houghton's Liverpool Career Comes to an End
Houghton's appearances for the 1989/90 were curtailed by a calf injury and he only managed 21 starts and 4 appearances as a substitute. Nevertheless he did pick up another First Division winners medal. The following season was trophy-less as Houghton made 39 appearances. In his final season with Liverpool FC, 1991/92, Houghton made 51 appearances in all competitions and he scored 12 goals. Ray Houghton's last match for Liverpool was in the FA Cup Final on 9 May 1992. He won his last piece of silverware as Liverpool beat Sunderland 2-0 at Wembley through goals from Michael Thomas and Ian Rush. In a surprise move Liverpool manager Graeme Souness sold Ray Houghton to Aston Villa in July 1992.
Ray Houghton - Ireland Career
Ray Houghton made his debut for Ireland on 26 March 1986 against Wales in friendly match at Lansdowne Road (now Aviva Stadium). Although born in Scotland he qualified to play for Ireland through his Donegal father. It was John Aldridge who brought Houghton's qualification for Ireland to Jack Charlton's attention. Shortly after his appointment Charlton went to an Oxford United match to assess Aldridge and when Big Jack asked him did he want to play for Ireland "...he not only expressed an interest, he told me about Ray Houghton. 'He's more Irish than me', John said. So on a cold night in March 1986 I acquired, thanks to John Aldridge, two of the greatest players in Irish football history."
Houghton went on to play for Ireland on 73 occasions scoring six goals. He came into the Irish set up as Jack Charlton was laying the foundations for a golden era in Irish football. He played in every match that Ireland played in the first three major football finals for which the Irish qualified.
Ray Houghton scored two truly memorable goals for Ireland at these tournaments. Ray Houghton scored the first goal ever scored by Ireland at a major championship as he scored the winner in a 1-0 win over England at the Euro 88 finals. He emulated this feat when he cracked home the winner as the Republic beat Italy in Ireland's opening match at the 1994 World Cup finals in the USA. He also scored the second penalty in the penalty shoot-out against Romania in the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy.
Ray Houghton's last appearance for Ireland was on 15 November 1997 in a 1998 World Cup qualifier play-off match against Belgium in the Heysel Stadium, in Brussels. New Irish manager Mick McCarthy brought his team to Brussels for the second leg of the play-off having drawn the Dublin leg 1-1. After the first half Ireland were 1-0 down to a goal from Oliveira. McCarthy sent Houghton as a substitute for Alan McLoughlin after 49 minutes. Ten minutes later Ray Houghton's last ever goal for Ireland brought the Irish back to level terms. Unfortunately for Ray Houghton and the Irish, this parity only lasted for ten minutes as Luc Nilis scored the winning goal and Belgium qualified for the 1998 World Cup finals in France.
SOURCE: John Aldridge My Story; John Aldrige & Hyder Jawad (1999); Hodder & Stoughton
Ray Houghton - Liverpool & Republic of Ireland Statistics
|Liverpool FC History - Liverpool Irish Players - Liverpool Supporters Clubs|
|John Aldridge - Phil Babb - Jim Beglin - Willie Donnelly - Sam English - Steve Finnan - David Hannah |
Steve Heighway - William Hood - Ray Houghton - Robbie Keane - Mark Kennedy - Billy Lacey
Mark Lawrenson - Jason McAteer - Ernest McCappin - Billy McDevitt - David McMullan - Billy Millar
Brian Mooney - Richie Partridge - Darren Potter - Michael Robinson - Elisha Scott - Kevin Sheedy
Sammy Smyth - Steve Staunton - Ronnie Whelan
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Glasgow Celtic History - Celtic's Irish Players
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