WORLD CUP: When Swindon Town's stars graced the biggest stage

This Is Wiltshire: Former Swindon Town midfielder Alan McLoughlin went to two World Cups with the Republic of Ireland Former Swindon Town midfielder Alan McLoughlin went to two World Cups with the Republic of Ireland

HURST'S hat-trick, Banks’ save, Tardelli’s goal celebration, Gazza’s tears, Brazil’s goal of the century in 1970, the Cruyff turn, Owen’s goal against Argentina.

These are the moments that come to mind when you think about the World Cup.

Football’s biggest prize might be held thousands of miles away, but for the first time in 20 years, Town fans can look forward to watching a current player take to the field in the most famous cup competition in Sport.

Swindon’s own Massimo Luongo has been included in Australia’s final 23-man squad, a fantastic achievement for a player who plays in the third tier of English football.

Luongo joins two other players who have played for their country at the World Cup while contracted to The Robins.

Jan Aage Fjørtoft was part of Norway’s 1994 World Cup squad and Alan McLoughlin represented the Republic of Ireland in 1990.

But over Town’s 135-year history we’ve had many former players who have graced football’s biggest stage.

The 1958 World Cup was the first and only time all the home nations qualified for the tournament, which included one player from Town’s past and two players who would play a part in the clubs future.

Town great Norman Uprichard and future assistant manager Harry Gregg both played in goal for the famous Northern Ireland side that reached the quarter-final stage before being knocked out by France.

Swindon ‘guest’ & future Spurs legend Danny Blanchflower captained the side.

A 24-year-old Dave Mackay, who would become player-manager at Town, started one of Scotland’s group games as they crashed out at the group stage.

The next Town connection at a World Cup came 20 years later when two of Town’s most successful managers Lou Macari and Ossie Ardiles took part in Argentina 78.

Macari, 28, played a bit part for Scotland as they were knocked out in the group stages.

But Ossie played a huge role in the home nation's famous win, with his performances attracting interest from Spurs, which led to his move to White Hart Lane with teammate Ricky Villa.

In 1982, Ossie was still a part of the Argentina national side, but the defending champions crashed out in the second round.

Two other future Swindon managers competed in Spain, with Glenn Hoddle and Paul Sturrock playing for England and Scotland respectively that year.

Hoddle made just the one appearance as England went out in the second round, with Sturrock a back-up striker for the Scots.

Also part of that squad was George Wood, who like Sturrock went as a back up, Wood would go on to be goalkeeping coach at Town from 2009-11 under Danny Wilson.

Both Hoddle and Sturrock both returned for their countries at the next World Cup in Mexico 86, with Hoddle playing a much bigger role.

The Spurs midfielder featured in all of England’s games on route to the quarter-final, before Diego Maradona cheated them out of a semi-final place.

One of Town’s 1993-94 Premier League squad, Terry Fenwick, also played in Mexico 86.

Future Town manager Maurice Malpas and player Frank McAvennie, joined Sturrock in the Scotland squad, but once again the Scots fail to make it out of the group stage.

A player who made his name at Swindon, Jimmy Quinn, went with the Northern Ireland squad but failed to make an appearance. Alan McDonald started all three of Northern Ireland's group games.

McDonald played for Town under Steve McMahon throughout the 1997-98 season, and famously had to finish a game between the sticks after goalkeeper Fraser Digby was sent off against QPR.

At Italia 90, McLoughlin made two substitute appearances as the Republic of Ireland made it all the way to the quarter-finals, but lost out to the hosts 1-0.

After Italia 90, Town signed Argentine defender Nester Lorenzo, but he failed to settle in Wiltshire over his two-year stay.

Lorenzo made three appearances at Italia 90 as the Argentinians went onto the final, only to lose 1-0 to West Germany.

He is the only player in Town’s history to play for the club and appear in a World Cup Final.

Both Steve McMahon and Neil Webb played a part in England’s extraordinary run to the semi-finals before losing out on penalties to West Germany.

In USA 1994, Town cult hero Fjørtoft made two starts for Norway and assisted their opening goal of the tournament in a 1-0 win over Mexico, but his side failed to get out of the group stages.

Now at Portsmouth, McLoughlin was once again part of the Republic of Ireland’s squad, but unlike four years previous, he failed to make an appearance.

In France 98, Swindon legend Fitzroy Simpson was selected for the Jamaica side along with future loanee Deon Burton. Simpson started all three of the group games and made one assist, with Burton making three appearances, one from the bench.

Another key player from Town’s history played in France, as Colin Calderwood started in two of Scotland’s three group games.

One-time Swindon Town loanees Tim Flowers and Paul Ince were both selected for Glenn Hoddle’s England side, with Ince playing a key role throughout the competition, but it ended in heartbreak for the midfielder as he missed a penalty in the shootout against Argentina.

In 2002, former Town loanee Shay Given plays all the Republic of Ireland’s games as Mick McCarthy’s side were knocked out by Spain in the second round on penalties.

Given made five appearances for Town in the 1995-96 Championship-winning season.

Four year later in Germany, Michael Carrick, who joined Town on a month’s loan in November 1999, travelled with Sven Goran Eriksson’s side.

But he made just the one outing onto the pitch, helping England win their second round match against Ecuador.

Former member of Town’s youth set-up, Theo Walcott, also travelled to Germany, but the 17 year-old failed to make an appearance.

In South Africa, Rory Fallon led the line for New Zealand in all three of the countries group games.

Despite not losing a game and earning a impressive 1-1 draw with holders Italy, the All Whites are knocked out in the group stage.

Another former loanee also made it to South Africa, James Milner, signed for Town in 2003, making six appearances and scoring two goals.

Seven years later, Milner would start England’s first game of the competition against USA. The midfielder played one more game in South Africa, as he set up Jermaine Defoe’s winning goal against Slovenia.

Milner has also been included in Roy Hodgson’s final 23-man squad for this summer’s tournament.

FOLLOW THE WORLD CUP IN OUR SEPCIAL TOURNAMENT SECTION AT GAZETTEANDHERALD.CO.UK AND WILTSHIRETIMES.CO.UK

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