Ireland's manager, Giovanni Trapattoni took made a brave decision to effectively play a reserve team believing that this would give younger, inexperienced players the opportunity to gain much needed international experience.
Ireland's latest string of victories have revealed the talent and determination of many of their players. Simon Cox, scored one of the goals that lead Ireland to beating Italy less than a month after his debut:
'It's been a great few months. I have enjoyed my club football and then to get the call-up to come away with Ireland was a terrific boost for me... Then to get a goal on my debut, and then get a goal against Italy was just great'.
Cox was eligible to play for Ireland because of his Irish roots - linking back to his Irish born grandmother - and exemplifies the dream of The Wild Geese. Although, they left Ireland, they dreamed of one day returning. Although many of them didn't get the opportunity to return, their legacy continues into the modern day. Simon Cox retuning to represent his country is a humbling realisation of this dream. Looking back at the match, Cox said 'It's an unbelievable honour for me'.
A few days before the match with Italy, Robbie Keane entered the record books after scoring his 50th international goal and becoming the highest goalscorer in Britain and Ireland. After inspecting the list of top goalscorers, Keane commented: 'I am very delighted and very proud to be amongst that elite. But for me, it's all about the team and the team performs'.
'You can set your stall out to reach certain goals, and my goal was to reach Niall Quinn's record [of 21]. I reached that and then you look to another one, so I am obviously delighted that I did that. When I first came into the Ireland squad, Niall Quinn said to me I would get 50 goals, so it's probably down to him'.
Some exemplary achievements of modern day Wild Geese.