In March 1985 Gary Lineker netted his first England goal in a 2-1 win over the Republic of Ireland. It was set-up by substitute Peter Davenport, who had come on in place of Mark Hateley. But while Lineker was given the chance to go on and score almost 50 goals for his country, Davenport was never picked again. His England career lasted less than 20 minutes.
Davenport had been snapped up by Nottingham Forest from minnows Cammell Laird in his native Birkenhead and emerged as a key forward under Brian Clough. The friendly against (a pre-Jack Charlton) Ireland came two days after Davenport’s 24th birthday and afforded Bobby Robson a rare chance to try things out a bit as England took a break from their World Cup qualifying campaign. Goalkeeper Gary Bailey and winger Chris Waddle were also handed their first caps – Bailey earned just one more, but Waddle would be a regular for several years.
Big move to Old Trafford
There would never be another England chance for Davenport, but he didn’t disappear off the radar. He warranted a £750,000 move to Manchester United a year later. His record of 22 goals in 92 league appearances at Old Trafford wasn’t great, but not a total failure either and he would score brownie points with the fans by banging in a late winner against Liverpool in 1987. But as Alex Ferguson focused on rebuilding the side Davenport was a casualty and he moved to Middlesbrough late in 1988. Cup runs would be a highlight of his later playing years, helping ‘Boro reach the ZDS Cup Final at Wembley in 1990 and retuning there with Sunderland for the FA Cup Final in 1992. He would go on to briefly manage in the Football League with Macclesfield Town.
Would things have turned out differently if it had been Lineker supplying Davenport to score against the Irish?