As a young kid growing up in Huyton in Liverpool, I never believed I would have a career that saw me win league titles with a great club like Everton, manage at the highest level for so long and, incredibly, play for my country.
Pulling on that England shirt is the pinnacle for any player. It always has been and always will be and even though I only played 13 times at international level, I’m so proud that my name is on that list of players who played for our country.
I came from Irish stock. My grandfather was involved in the 1916 uprising and he moved to England after that as a few people were after him in Ireland! That’s how my dad ended up living in the north west of England.
I qualified to play for Ireland, but that was never really an option. I was English, I played for the U21s and then got into the senior squad, but there were always people ahead of me for the starting roles in the midfield.
Bryan Robson and Ray Wilkins were regulars in Bobby Robson’s team at the time and I had to wait for my chance, but I would always say that my debut against Mexico in a summer tour game in 1985 was one of the best moments of my career.
It was not a massively important match, but I look back on it now and appreciate what a huge achievement that was for me to get my first England cap and a year later, I was back in Mexico for the World Cup Finals and ended up playing a bigger than expected role in the team.
Robson injured his shoulder and Wilkins got sent off in our second match against Morocco, so I got my chance for the third game against Poland and stayed in the team for the rest of the tournament, even though I was carrying an ankle problem that I picked up before the tournament.
It all came down to a game against Diego Maradona and Argentina and I have to say, people have talked about so much in the years since. I remember so much about 22 June 1986, the day England played Argentina at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico.
The noise of the crowd, the tension of the day, but then the abiding memory is that we were cheated out of the World Cup by Maradona’s handball.
He also scored what I think I the best goal of all-time in that game by the way, but the handball was hard for me to take and he has never really apologised for it, which makes it worse for me.
It was cheating, pure and simple, never mind the ‘Hand of God’ nonsense, and even though we so nearly got back into the game when John Barnes came off the bench and scared the life out of them, we were out of the World Cup.
The scenes in the tunnel after the game were not pretty. Terry Butcher had a pop at one of their players and the punches started flying, but the last thing I remember from that day was the Argentina players singing songs of celebration. None of us wanted to hear that.
There is some pride that I played in one of the most iconic matches of all-time, but that does not change the fact that I’m still annoyed by what Maradona did that day.