When you left (or were pushed) that famous time in Saipan, a nation divided like nothing seen since the civil war. But time passed and be dad, many is the man, woman and child who has forgiven you for sins you may or may not have committed.
When you dragged that team you captained kicking and screaming all the way to qualification, no one argued that you were truly one of the greats – up there with Mc Grath as possibly the most influential player ever to wear the green of Ireland.
When you slated the FAI for their inept preparation and their lack of professionalism, the people of Ireland sat and listened. Every man and his dog thought you were right and we knew that things were not all gravy in the hallowed halls of Merrion Square.
When we bought your book we read every page with hunger and lapped up every story. It was told with passion and with a great eye for what we love to know. It was a book written for the fan.
Even though some of us are Liverpool fans, when you got that second yellow in Turin we felt your pain though you yourself were numb. We felt it because we followed your every move as an Irish success story for many long years.
When you criticised the prawn munching brigade in the Theatre of Dreams, we all laughed and agreed that corporate United had indeed sold out to the money men.
But there were no prawns being munched in Gdansk.
It is not the mentality of the Irish fan to indulge in half time prawns.
No Roy, in Gdansk you saw and heard the raucous thunderous noise of passionate supporters singing their hearts out for men who were on their knees.
This was no sing-a-long. This was no late night arm around the shoulders yippin’ and hooin’ rebel song serenade.
This was thousands of men and women supporting their team. This was the last cries to defy the pain being felt as the harsh reality of our inadequacies as an international football team were hammered home. This is the mentality of fans who would do the same if we were winning or were losing.
The best fans in the world is a title many fans lay claim to – the Irish ones included.
But there are not many groups who will love and sing and instantly forgive in the face of such annihilation as this team had just suffered.
Roy, I watched this game in a small café in a small street in a town in Colombia with two Isrealis, two Colombians and my Kiwi wife who spent the last 20 minutes looking at her iphone.
With five minutes to go tears were streaming down my face.
Not because we were out.
Not because the group and individuals had underperformed.
Not because we had just lost 4-0.
They were streaming down my face because my Irish brothers and sisters wearing the green were singing their hearts out in spite of all that had gone wrong. The tears flowed because I saw how we embrace the ones who fall. The tears flowed because my fellow supporters stood up and were counted when the end was looming large.
We sang for you too Roy, when you fell (or were you pushed?)
Maybe it is time Roy, for you to stand on a terrace again.
Is mise le meas