Mick McCarthy was reminded of reaching the World Cup as the Republic of Ireland fought back to snatch a Euro 2020 qualifying draw with Switzerland.
McCarthy, who went to Italy in 1990 as a player under Jack Charlton and was in charge when Ireland made it to the Far East 12 years later, experienced a similar elation when David McGoldrick struck late to grab a point from a 1-1 draw in Dublin on Thursday night.
He said: “The atmosphere was fabulous. When the goal went in, it was like the days of old, Jack’s days, my days in qualifying for the World Cup.
“The atmosphere was fabulous and I’d like to thank the fans for that.”
Ireland remain unbeaten and top of Group D with 11 points, three clear of Denmark, who have played a game fewer, and six better off than the Swiss who have two in hand.
However, they will head into next month’s on-the-road double-header in Georgia and Switzerland buoyed by the point they claimed courtesy of McGoldrick’s first senior international goal.
It came five minutes from time and cancelled out Fabian Schar’s beautifully-taken 74th-minute opener, and it proved all the more valuable as the Republic were largely out-played by a side ranked 11th in the world.
Asked what had pleased him the most, McCarthy said: “The equaliser. Not to be funny with you, obviously that, the nature of how we got that equaliser, going 1-0 down like we did in Denmark.
“The stoic nature of the players, the durability of them to keep going. They gave me everything, they are brilliant.
“We’re not the best team in the group, but I tell you what, you’re going to have to pull us down before we give up. That’s a lovely trait.
“My teams I’ve played in and managed, that’s always been a wonderful trait.”
Vladimir Petkovic’s men will welcome Ireland to Geneva next month intent on making them pay for their near miss, and McCarthy knows that could prove intensely difficult.
He said: “Well, we may have to circle the wagons over there a bit. If they play a lot better in Switzerland than they did here today, then we’ll have our work cut out.”
Petkovic was disappointed to be leaving with just a point, but remains confident that qualification remains in his side’s own hands ahead of Sunday’s clash with group minnows Gibraltar.
He said: “Ireland need to come to Switzerland to win and we still have all chances to qualify for the Euros. Today we saw there is no easy opponent and we need to stay focused and remain hungry ahead of Gibraltar.
“There were two points lost today, unfortunately. A win meant we would have been 50 per cent qualified, but we still have a game in hand and we have two delicate away games out of the way and four points is a good return.”
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