Ireland Is Reairing Its Legendary 1990 World Cup Run, With One Cheeky Change

This time, Salvatore Schillaci misses

With live sports still mostly on hiatus, broadcasters are continuing to air classic matches from years past. For the Irish, nothing beats their Cinderella run at the 1990 FIFA World Cup—the country's first time qualifying, when they went on to make a storybook run to the quarterfinals.

TV station TG4 is reairing Ireland's five matches from Italia 90, taking the Irish back to that glorious summer 30 years ago. The run took them to a historic quarterfinal matchup against host nation Italy in Rome, where Ireland ended up crashing out 1-0 on a heartbreaking goal in the 38th minute by Salvatore Schillaci. 

But Publicis Dublin's commercial promoting TG4's reairing, a sly change has been made to critical footage from that match. Indeed, Schillaci suddenly loses his nerve—and fails to score. 

And the rest is (reimagined) history.

Scoreless Schillaci

Publicis copywriter Peter Dobbyn tells Muse that the whole project was energizing. "The chance to relive an amazing summer of football at a time when there is literally no sport on TV and the whole country is feeling low was brilliant," he says.

In thinking about all the epic Italia 90 moments, though, it was impossible to ignore the Schillaci goal—the end of the dream.

"The Irish people still haven't forgiven him for it, even after all these years," Dobbyn says. "In fact, I'm pretty sure you can still buy 'Fuck Schillaci' T-shirts online. So we thought to ourselves, what if we could change history? What if we could make Schillaci miss?" 

The agency got all the footage for the games, and the team's in-house motion graphics guy, Cormac O'Connor, did a convincing job of putting the ball wide. The shots of the devastated Italian players and fan were taken from the semifinal, when Italy were knocked out by Argentina on penalty kicks.

For a soundtrack, there was really only one choice: Pavarotti's "Nessun Dorma." "We were over the moon," says Dobbyn of finding out they could use the track. "It really adds to the drama and humor of the piece."

The result is amusing, maybe even a little cathartic. 

"We knew we landed on something that would really resonate with the Irish people," Dobbyn says, "and give us all a reason to smile again, if even briefly."


Client: TG4
Agency: Publicis Dublin
Creative Director: Carol Lambert
Copywriter: Peter Dobbyn
Art Director: Lucas Oliveira
Executive Creative Director: Ronan Nulty
Editor/After Effects: Cormac O'Connor
Managing Director: Padraig Burns
Senior Account Manager: Michelle Fadden
Agency Producer: Niamh Skelly
Director of Marketing, Development and Partnerships: Lís Ní Dhálaigh
Marketing Executive: Pádraic Ó Ráighne
Creative / Brand Director: Seán Cathal Ó Coileáin

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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