Frank Stapleton will be long remembered as one of the greats of Irish football with a total of 71 caps, a then record of 20 international goals, distinguished service with such quality clubs as Arsenal and Manchester United and then seeing out the twilight of a magnificent playing career with brief spells at Ajax, Derby County, Le Havre and Blackburn Rovers.
Stapleton quickly adjusted to the demands of English football and made his debut as an 18 year old at Highbury against Stoke City in March 1975. Then came his international debut under then player-manager Johnny Giles in a friendly against Turkey the following year in Ankara.
Incredibly the 20 year old Dubliner was on target after just three minutes when heading home a Giles free-kick at the near post. That 'friendly' international finished 3-3 and marked the start of a magnificent international career for the always quiet and reserved Stapleton.
Significantly Stapleton showed his true green colours before the deal taking him from Arsenal to Manchester United was completed as he insisted on a clause in his contract that he would be released for Irish international games - friendly or competitive. The World Cup finals in Spain 1982 should have been Stapo's international highlight.
Goals against Cyprus, Holland and France for Stapleton in the qualifying matches were not enough as the Republic were cruelly denied a place at the finals by a superior French goal difference.
Big Jack Charlton took over as Irish boss in 1986 and Stapleton would captain his side throughout the 1988 Euro finals and those never to be forgotten matches against England 1-0 (Stuttgart), Soviet Union 1-1 (Hanover) and Holland 0-1 (Gelsenkirchen). But the Dubliner's days at international level were numbered.
Stapleton remained on the fringe of the national team during qualification for World Cup Italia '90 making just two appearances late in the campaign.