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TONY'S OWN GOAL; I did not qualify for Ireland. I was just a fraud, a fake Irishman.

TONY Cascarino, the soccer idol who set the record for winning Ireland caps, may lose them after admitting he isn't Irish at all.

He made the amazing confession in a book that he was urged never to write.

Cascarino, with 88 Irish caps, also revealed that his daughter was born to his mistress while he was still living with his wife.

Cascarino's mother was adopted, meaning he didn't qualify under the grandparents rule - through which several players have represented the country.

He said: "I didn't qualify for Ireland. I was a fraud. A fake Irishman."

Gardai said last night that Cascarino's actions could possibly constitute passport fraud.

A Fraud Squad source said: "He seems to be admitting that he did wrong. In that case, he could certainly face charges.

"It is something we would look at, but I think the chances of him facing charges are slim."

Cascarino admits seeking advice from two Irish players - Andy Townsend and Niall Quinn - about the revelation.

He only found out four years ago that he wasn't eligible.

Cascarino said: "Writing this book has been a very difficult experience. But it was also good therapy for me.

"I don't know how people are going to take it or what's going to happen now. But I'd want people to know that I'm very proud to consider myself Irish."

FAI chief Bernard O'Byrne said last night he was "shocked by the revelation".

And he confirmed that the Association would have to consider stripping Cascarino of his caps.

Former Ireland manager Jack Charlton said he should never have disclosed the situation.

He said: "He should have kept it to himself.

"There was no reason to admit it. Why did he have to mention it in the first place?"

In the book, The Secret Life of Tony Cascarino, he wrote: "Deep down, from the time she was a child, my mother always suspected there was something wrong. Little things, like her place of birth, bothered her.

"And then there was the rumour about her mum. None of the neighbours had ever noticed that Mrs O'Malley [Cascarino's grandmother] was pregnant.

"She had gone away for a couple of weeks and arrived home one afternoon with a baby girl - Theresa - that she was calling her own.

"The whisper had fuelled my mother's doubt. Was Michael O'Malley from Westport really her father? Was Grace O'Malley from Waterford her natural mum?

"The years passed and her parents grew older and she continued to shy from the answers until the night Michael died in 1982.

"My mother was with him on his death bed. She had cared for him diligently in the last years of his life.

"Maureen, her sister, had accompanied her to the hospital. `Just tell me one thing, am I really his daughter?' my mother asked her sister.

"`No, you're not,' her sister replied.

"My mother was devastated."

Three years later, Cascarino got the international call-up.

He added: "I arrived home from training at Gillingham one afternoon buzzing with the news that I'd been contacted by the FAI.

"My mother was pleased but a touch reserved. `What links do you need to have?' she enquired. `None. It's all set up,' I enthused.

"`Grandad qualifies me to play for Ireland. I just have to apply for an Irish passport so I'm going to need copies of birth certificates and stuff'."

Cascarino applied for an Irish passport but his application was refused.

He continued to play for Ireland until 1996 when rule changes meant he had to get the Irish passport.

It was then that he told Andy Townsend and Niall Quinn about the dilemma.

He said: "I phoned Andy for advice. He was amazed and said: `For f***'s sake, don't mention a word to anyone. No-one is going to accuse you of not giving your best. Just apply for the passport and sit tight'."

He did and, within months, had an Irish passport.

Cascarino also revealed that his daughter Maeva was the child of an affair.

He said: "She was born in Nice in August 1995 at a time when I was married to another woman, living in another place and leading a deceitful double life."

Cascarino also spoke about coming to the end of his career - admitting that he has nothing planned and not much money saved.

He said: "My contract with French side Nancy expires in June and my status will change from pounds 8,000 a month superstar to unemployed.

"Should I keep scoring goals between now and the end of the season there's a fair chance the club will offer me an extension.

"And that will be the real dilemma. I don't want another contract and I've had my fill of the game, but when it comes to the crunch I'm not at all sure I'll have the courage to turn it down."

Bernard O'Byrne added: "It's sad he found out in the way he did. It's also sad if it's being used just to sell a book.

"My initial reaction would be that stripping the caps isn't something we'd be inclined to do.

"I think we'll want to talk to Tony.We're wondering if he might give them back.

"I don't think anyone wants to victimise him but we are disappointed on a personal basis."

Mr O'Byrne said he would be talking to Cascarino this week about the matter.
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Author:Foxe, Ken
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 30, 2000
Words:894
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