Sport

Back in the day: July 8 1998: France '98: So who is the best soccer player in the world?

POWERHOUSE...Brazilian superstar Ronaldo has yet to catch fire during this World Cup but tonight could be the night when he finally shows his true class on the world stage
The Irish News Archive

FOR a man who refuses to fly, Dennis Bergkamp has done a pretty good job of piloting Holland into the semi-finals of the World Cup.

He’s scored three goals already in France 98, claiming a Dutch national record of 36 in the process.

He struck the vital 90thminute winner against Argentina – a goal of such exquisite touch and ruthless execution that it could well prove to be the best individual effort of the tournament.

He has been the inspiration behind so much of what has been a revelation about this Dutch side. And tonight in Marseille he comes up against Ronaldo – the Brazilian star who cost £20million when he moved from Barcelona to Inter Milan, and who at 21 is the brightest talent in the soccer firmament.

It is not fanciful to suggest that they will be competing for more than a place in the World Cup final – they will also be playing for the right to be called the world’s greatest footballer.

Their showdown promises to be the most intriguing battle of France 98 so far.

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MARTY Quinn is thankful for small mercies.

While being far from impressed with yesterday’s Champions’ League draw, the Cliftonville boss is only too happy to welcome Slovakians Kosice to Solitude on July 22.

On receipt of the draw in Geneva Cliftonville’s chairman Jim Boyce – due to step down soon – quickly acted to move the July 22 first leg fixture to Belfast.

The Slovakians agreed and left the Cliftonville contingent thankful. Cliftonville’s Paul Reece, Marty Tabb and Damien Davey would most likely have been ruled out of the club’s historic Champions Cup return, due to family vacations.

The trio return from holiday on July 21 but would have faced a last minute hustle to process visa applications.

Of immediate concern to Cliftonville is the double Inter-Toto Cup bookings Mickey Donnelly earned two seasons ago in Europe.

Club secretary John Duffy is expected to speak with Geneva administrators this week regarding Donnelly’s predicament.

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ST PAT’S Athletic and Shelbourne may be forced to bring their respective European games to Lansdowne Road.

National League champions St Pat’s were matched with Glasgow Celtic in the first leg preliminary

round of the Champions League and Shelbourne paired with the Scottish champions’ bitter rivals Rangers in the Uefa Cup. Football Association of Ireland PRO, Brendan McKenna, said Lansdowne Road will be open to the two clubs.

St Pat’s and Shelbourne welcomed both glamour ties and the promise of improved bank balances but Shelbourne, the National League, the FAI and the Gardai will be forced into security conscious meetings over the forthcoming days.

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BELFAST boxing coach Gerry Storey will accompany Ireland’s two-man team to the Goodwill Games in New York on July 23. The experienced Holy Family clubman, who combines his amateur coaching duties with a bustling professional stable headed by Commonwealth champion Darren Corbett, has been selected for the ten-day event.

Belfast’s Steven Kirk and Neil Gough (St Paul’s Waterford) will travel after Games’ organisers issued invites to Ireland to fill the light heavyweight and welterweight berths for the New York tournament.

It could be Kirk’s last outing before he heads off to the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur early in September.

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