The biggest event in world football is just two days away and Brentford history may be made. Henrik Dalsgaard is on the verge of becoming the first player contracted to Brentford FC to play at a World Cup after being named in the Denmark squad for the tournament. The 2018 FIFA World Cup will kick-off in Russia as the hosts start the tournament against Saudi Arabia on Thursday, 14 June, and Henrik’s historic moment could come on Saturday, 16 June, when Denmark face Peru.
But Henrik won’t be the first man with Brentford links to appear in the tournament. There have been more than a dozen players and managers to have featured in a World Cup in some way shape or form that have either been employed at Griffin Park before or after their momentous appearance. With thanks to Jonathan Burchill for his research, we are having a look at some of them.
Yesterday we looked at six players that were part of England squads at World Cups. Today will be an exploration of players that have represented other home nations at a World Cup and also played for Brentford. Later this week we will find players that have been involved in the competition for other nations. There are also those for whom their link to either Brentford or the World Cup is managerial.
With the other home nations – Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland – not being regular World Cup participants, the Brentford links in this category are few. Wales have only ever been to one World Cup – in Sweden in 1958 – and did not take anyone with a Brentford connection. Scotland have made it to eight tournaments but, again, have no Brentford links. Northern Ireland, however, have used players with Brentford connections.
Northern Ireland have reached three World Cup. They made it to Sweden in 1958 and then to consecutive events in 1982 and 1986, memorably beating Spain in the former. In 1982 their squad included Thomas Finney – sometimes known as Tommy Finney or Tom Finney but definitely not to be confused by the Preston North End and England winger of the same name. Tom earned 14 caps for his country during a career mostly spent at Cambridge United. He spent a few months at Brentford in 1984, two years after being part of the Northern Ireland squad, albeit he did not play.
Four years later there was another Brentford link in the Northern Ireland squad. Ian Stewart, pictured above - wearing number 11 - playing against England, was at Newcastle United when he was named in the squad and he played three games in the tournament as Northern Ireland went out at the first stage. In 1988 he had a spell on loan at Brentford from Portsmouth, playing a handful of games.