Back in 1990, Spitting Image did a sketch taking the piss out of Ireland's reliance on the Granny rule. In it, the puppet playing Jack Charlton introduced his latest line of recruits, which included the promising Newcastle born Irishman, Paddy O'Gascoigne.
Little did Spitting Image know how close they were to being true. The awesome reach of the Irish diaspora was proven again this morning as Jack Charlton revealed that Ireland could have had Paul Gascoigne.
During his brief and disastrous spell as Newcastle manager, Charlton was Gazza's boss and later inquired whether Gazza had any Irish blood in him. (One wonders at this stage whether there was any player in the English football league between the years 1986 and 1995 who was not asked this question).
Gazza told Big Jack that he was '100% Geordie'. It transpired that Gascoigne was wrong about this. His grandmother was Irish. He was 100% granny ruler to the core.
Speaking to the Mirror, Jack wondered aloud what might have been.
The problem was getting him to play for Ireland and if only I’d spoken to his mother a week earlier, I might have had the chance.
He actually qualified to play for Ireland but no one knew it at the time and we only just missed out on him.
If we could reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup without him, but with the quality players we had in the team at that time, what would we have been like with him in the side, in his prime?
I think I could have persuaded him, if I’d known. He still calls me his second dad and I do think I could have talked him into it.
Paddy O'Gascoigne could have been a reality.