Packie Bonner

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Pat Bonner
Personal information
Full name Patrick Joseph Bonner
Date of birth (1960-05-24) 24 May 1960 (age 54)
Place of birth Cloughglass, Burtonport, Donegal,
Height 1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)
Playing position Goalkeeper
Youth career
1975 Keadue Rovers
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1978–1998 Celtic[1] 483 (0)
National team
1981–1996 Republic of Ireland 80 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Patrick Joseph "Packie" Bonner (born 24 May 1960 in Burtonport, County Donegal) is an Irish former football goalkeeper for Celtic. He earned 80 caps for the Republic of Ireland national football team after making his debut on his 21st birthday. He is remembered for his famous penalty save from Daniel Timofte of Romania at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy during the knockout stage.[2]

Club career[edit]

He began his career in the late 1970s with his local youth side, Keadue Rovers.[3] When he was 16 he had several trials with Leicester City[4] and kept goal for them in the FA Youth Cup. A year later he was spotted by Sean Fallon who was scouting in Ireland for Celtic, and invited to Glasgow for a trial.[5] Bonner impressed and signed for Celtic on 14 May 1978, becoming Jock Stein's last signing for the Parkhead club.[3][5]

Bonner went on to play 642 times for Celtic, with 483 league appearances.[6] In total with Celtic, he won four League Championship badges, three Scottish Cup winners' medals and a League Cup winners' medal. His last appearance for Celtic was winning the 1995 Scottish Cup final under Tommy Burns. After the Scottish Cup Final victory over Airdrie, Bonner took on the role of player-coach and finally left the club in 1998 to work as a coach alongside former team mate Tommy Burns.

With 642 appearances, Bonner is the most prolific goalkeeper in Celtic history, and their fifth-most prolific player of all time.

International career[edit]

Bonner made his international debut on his 21st birthday in a friendly against Poland on 24 May 1981. The game was played in Zawisza Stadium, Bydgoszcz. He conceded a goal in the opening 90 seconds of the match, scored by Andrzej Iwan. A David O'Leary own goal in the 37th minute and a third Polish goal in the second half from Roman Ogaza would make it a forgettable experience.[7] For the remainder of the Eoin Hand managerial era, Bolton Wanderers Jim McDonagh remained Ireland's first choice Goalkeeper. However, by the time of the appointment of Jack Charlton in March 1986, Bonner was already claiming the number one position for the Republic. Bonner claimed his 75th international cap on his 34th birthday in a 1–0 win over Bolivia at Landsdowne Road which at the time equalled the Republic of Ireland record held by Liam Brady.

Euro 88[edit]

Bonner played in seven of Ireland's 8 games in the qualifying round of Euro 88. Despite some great results, including a 1–0 win away to Scotland, a 2–0 win at home to Bulgaria and a 2–2 draw away to world cup bronze medalists Belgium, Ireland looked to be losing out on goal difference to Bulgaria. Bulgaria needed only a draw against Scotland in their last match to progress. However, a last minute winning goal for Scotland gave Ireland, and Bonner, a first appearance at the European Championships.

Bonner played in all of Ireland's games at Euro 88, including the 1–0 victory over England.[8] Ireland scored early and dominated in the first half, missing several chances to put the game beyond England. However, in the second half, Bonner produced a number of outstanding saves to keep Ireland in the lead, most notably from Gary Lineker, and was named Man of the Match. It was Bonner's 8th consecutive clean sheet for Ireland. In the second game, Ireland drew 1–1 with the Soviet Union. Ireland narrowly missed out on a semi-final appearance, conceding a goal in the dying minutes of their final round 1 match against eventual champions, the Netherlands.[9]

Italia 90[edit]

Bonner missed the opening qualifying game for Italia 90 away to Northern Ireland due to a back injury.[10] However, he played in the remaining seven fixtures, with the only goals being conceded throughout the qualifying campaign coming in 0-2 loss away in Spain.[10] Indeed, only an excellent performance by Bonner in that game saved Ireland from a heavier defeat.[10] Ireland went on to beat Spain 1-0 in the return fixture at Lansdowne Road, and in November 1989 clinched qualification in the final fixture with a 2-0 win away over Malta.[10]

It was the first time the Republic of Ireland had qualified for the World Cup, and Bonner would make his mark on the world stage with two memorable moments that live long in Irish sporting folklore.[11] The first was in Ireland's very first World Cup Finals game, against England. With Ireland 1–0 down late in the game, Bonner delivered a determined clearance all the way to the English penalty area, setting up Kevin Sheedy's equaliser. While Bonner's role in the goal itself was minimal, the look of sheer determination on his face has been remembered as one of the defining moments of Ireland's inaugural appearance in the tournament. After a disappointing 0–0 draw with Egypt in the second game, Ireland needed at least a draw with the Netherlands to ensure passage to the next round. With Ireland 1–0 down midway through the second half, Bonner once again delivered a clearance all the way to the Dutch penalty area, which caused enough confusion to allow Niall Quinn to slot in the equaliser and send Ireland to the second round. Bonner's second memorable moment at Italia 90 occurred in Round 2. Ireland had drawn with Romania and the knockout game went to a penalty shootout. With the shootout tied at 4–4 with one penalty each to go, Bonner made a simple save from a poorly taken penalty by Daniel Timofte, setting up David O'Leary to score the winning Irish goal. In the quarter-final against Italy, Ireland lost 1–0 as Bonner saved a powerful shot from Roberto Donadoni, but was knocked off balance enough to allow Salvatore Schillaci to snatch the winning goal and send Ireland home.[12] Bonner arrived home in Dublin to a hero's welcome the following day.

Bonner's penalty save has been remembered by FIFA as one of the great moments of that World Cup. In an article entitled "Bonner's Moment in Time", Bonner states, "It really wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that that one save changed my life forever, certainly in terms of recognition."

Euro 92[edit]

Bonner remained Ireland's number one choice goalkeeper for Euro 92, where Ireland was drawn against Poland, Turkey and England in the qualifying round. Ireland lost out to England in controversial circumstances. With Ireland one point behind England and tied with Poland with two games left, it was debated in the media if a draw with Poland would be better than a win. Assuming England beat Turkey on the same day, a draw left Ireland and Poland with 6 points each with England on 8 points and all three teams having one remaining game. With England playing Poland in the last game, it meant that Poland could still qualify for the tournament by beating England and hoping Ireland failed to beat Turkey in their last game. If Poland did beat England, Ireland could then qualify on goal difference by beating Turkey. However, if instead Ireland beat Poland in the second-last game, Poland was out of the tournament. Ireland would have 7 points to England's 8, meaning that Ireland would need to beat Turkey and hope that Poland, without the prospect of qualification, could still manage a draw with England. With Ireland leading Poland 3–1 with minutes to go, Ireland conceded two late goals and the game finished 3–3.[13] Some speculated that the loss of the lead was deliberate, to give the Poles a reason to want to beat England and improve Ireland's qualification chances in the last match. In the end, Ireland lost out to England by a single point as England drew their final match 1–1 with Poland.

USA 94[edit]

Bonner represented Ireland in all 12 of their qualifying matches for USA 94. Ireland seemed well on the way to qualification after 7 wins and 3 draws in the opening 10 games. With each side having only two games remaining, Ireland led the group on 18 points, ahead of Denmark on 16, with Spain in third place on 15 points. Ireland needed only a draw at Lansdowne Road against Spain in the second last game to guarantee qualification, while a win would virtually guarantee top position in the group. However, Ireland conceded three goals in a 15-minute spell in the first half, and despite a late consolation goal, Ireland now needed to beat Northern Ireland in the last game to guarantee a place in the finals. A draw would mean Ireland needed the Spain-Denmark game, happening simultaneously, to finish in a win for one of the two sides. Ireland drew 1–1 with Northern Ireland, but qualified ahead of Denmark by virtue of having scored more goals (they were level on goal difference), as Denmark lost 1–0 to Spain. Bonner's saves throughout the tournament were key to Ireland's goal-difference remaining on par with Denmark and ensuring eventual qualification.

In the Finals, Ireland beat Italy 1–0[14] in their opening match. The euphoria was compounded by the fact that Ireland had also beaten Germany and the Netherlands in warm-up games. However, from that point on, the tournament was a disappointment for Ireland and especially Bonner. A 2–1 defeat at the hands of Mexico and a 0–0 draw with Norway were just enough for Ireland to move into round two on the strength of their win over Italy. A 2–0 defeat to the Netherlands[15] ended Ireland's tournament, and was a low point for Bonner. With Ireland already 1–0 down late in the first half, a long-distance effort from Wim Jonk should have been an easy save. However, Bonner fumbled the shot and it dribbled into the net. Ireland never recovered and was eliminated from the tournament.

Euro 96[edit]

Bonner struggled to maintain his place in the Ireland squad during Euro 96 playing only one match, as captain, in a 4–0 win over Liechtenstein at Landsdowne Road. Alan Kelly, Jr. played all of Ireland's other qualification matches. Ireland were eliminated 2–0 by the Netherlands in a playoff.


Bonner became the Republic of Ireland's most capped goalkeeper with 80 appearances for his country. He held this record until it was surpassed in 2007 by fellow Donegal native Shay Given, who by the end of 2011 had achieved 120 caps. Bonner remains a cultural icon in Ireland for his role in some of the most memorable moments in Irish sporting history, including the win over England at Euro 88, the draws with England and the Netherlands at Italia 90, and, of course, the penalty save that sent Ireland to the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the first and, to date, only time.

Coaching role[edit]

On 2 February 2003, following the promotion of Brian Kerr to the position of Republic of Ireland team manager, Bonner was named as technical director of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI). He previously held the role of the senior squad's goalkeeping coach in the organisation. In addition, he has worked as a football presenter with TV3.

His brother Denis played for Galway United, where he scored in the 1985–86 European Cup Winners' Cup and Finn Harps. His son, Andrew, is also a footballer, although a striker not a keeper, and has played for the Republic of Ireland national youth team, and at club level he has so far only played in the lower leagues of Scotland.

Career statistics[edit]


Republic of Ireland national team
Year Apps Goals
1981 1 0
1982 1 0
1983 1 0
1984 2 0
1985 4 0
1986 5 0
1987 6 0
1988 7 0
1989 8 0
1990 11 0
1991 7 0
1992 7 0
1993 9 0
1994 9 0
1995 0 0
1996 2 0
Total 80 0



See also[edit]