A nice wee PR package came together this week following an interview with former Celtic, Chelsea and Marseilles football star, Tony Cascarino,who is now the sponsored professional poker player with our client, Littlewoodspoker.com.
The big man is a great interviewee and let slip during our chat that he’d learned in the last few years that his dad was born in Scotland.
Now, this struck me as particulalry ironic, because Tony collected a hatful of Republic of Ireland caps and really made his mark when the Irish team lived the dream at both the 1990 and 1994 world cups. He was able to do that because his beloved mum, Teresa O’Malley, had an Oirish father.
His grandpa on the other side of the family was Italian and everybody assumed his dad Dominic was English, but both the England and Italian squads of the time were brimful of talent, so his chances of international calls up with either of those nations were slim, to say the least. All in all his Irish heritage worked out just dandy – big Casc loved playing for Ireland and the Irish supporters loved him right back. Fans and players alike enjoyed a fantastic, fairytale experience along the way.
Except that in 1996 Tony’s mum revealed that she’d actually been adopted, so there was no blood tie with his Irish grandfather at all. In his autobiography, he wrote about the profound effect of the bombshell news and how it left him feeling like a fraud and a fake and took the shine of his time with the Ireland national team. Of course, he was being hard on himself and everyone in Ireland was totally laid back about the whole thing. Adoption made him as Irish as the Liffey and they loved him just the same.
As Cascarino filled me in on all this (in an accent so English, at times he sounded like Brucie Forsyth!) I had to ask why he’d never chosen to play the Scottish card instead.
The answer was simple. He’d never had a particularly close relationship with his dad and the older man had also been extremely cagey about the subject. After claiming he’d been born in Edinburgh, he’d refused to elaborate any further, except to say he’d stayed in the Scottish capital until he was five and then moved to London. In the absence of any concrete evidence about this situation, Tony had chosen simply to ignore it.
Without letting on I arranged for a birth certificate search just to quietly see if it was possible to confirm or deny his father’s story. The records system and Register House in Edinburgh is superb and it literlly took limits to come up trumps with Dominic Cascarino’s birth certificate from 1939. For a small sum we were even able to get a copy.
When I broke this news to Tony, he was delighted. Something that had always been a bit hazy and uncertain was suddenly laid before him in black and white as irrefutable fact. And so we had the story of what might have been – one of the biggest charcacters in the game could have qualified for Scotland and avoided all the angst that eventually overshadowed his time with the Ireland football team.
Whatever nationality the big fella chooses, he’s a gentleman in any language – so I wish him all the best as he’s back in Dublin this week to play in the 2008 Irish Open.
I’m jsut not sure whether to wish him Good luck! Buona fortuna! Go n-éirí an t-ádh leat! – or Gaun yersel big man!