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6 March 2013

Richard Day reviews the centre-forward's career

Tony, a former hairdresser, born to an Italian father and English mother in St Paul’s Cray in September 1962, went from working as a labourer to become a regular for his country, the Republic of Ireland, within four years.

He was playing football at Kent League Crockenhill when Gillingham manager Keith Peacock brought him to Priestfield for "a set of tracksuits" in January 1982 – although other training equipment also allegedly changed hands.

Cas’ made his debut away to Burnley the following month and scored the first of his 110 goals for the club in his third appearance, a 6-1 triumph over Wimbledon.

In his first full season with the attack-minded Gills (1982-83) Tony scored 19 goals and subsequently he netted tallies of 15 (1983-84), 20 (1984-85), 21 (1985-86) and 30 in his final campaign at the club (1986-87) which included his one and only hat-trick which came in the first leg of the Play-Off semi-final with Sunderland.

Having made a total of 269 league and cup appearances for the club Cascarino was sold to Millwall in June 1987 for £225,000, a then club record fee for the Lions, making his debut at Middlesbrough in the August.

While at the Den he forged a tremendous partnership with Teddy Sheringham which led to their promotion as Second Division champions at the end of 1987-88.

Tony went on to score 49 times in 128 games for the South London club before another club record fee of £1.5m took him to Aston Villa in March 1990.

An unsuccessful spell followed north of the border at Celtic, who paid £1.1m in the summer of 1991, but just seven months later, in February 1992, a player-exchange saw the 29-year-old join Chelsea – left-back Tom Boyd moving in the opposite direction.

After his 40 games for the Blues it was in August 1994 that Cascarino began a career overseas in French football, when joining Olympique de Marseille – the biggest club in France.

While at Marseille he scored 71 times in 105 appearances and spells followed at both Nancy and Red Star 93 before finally retired from playing, at the age of 38, at the end of the 1999-2000 campaign.

Tony also became one of the Republic of Ireland's greatest servant’s, scoring 19 goals in 88 caps for his country over a 14-year period.

In September 1985 he made his debut for the ‘Greens’ against Switzerland in a World Cup Qualifier  before playing in the 1988 European Championships plus the 1990 and 1994 World Cups.

However, sometime after his final appearance in November 1999 in Turkey, he revealed in his autobiography (Full Time: The Secret Life of Tony Cascarino) that he didn't have a drop of green blood in his body and should never have played for them!

Since retiring from the game he has worked for TalkSPORT, The Times and Sky Sports here and Hot Press, TV3 and Today FM in Ireland, he has been a punter with the Racing Post as well as a semi-professional poker player.

In 2011 he won Celebrity Bainisteoir, an Irish prime-time reality programme involving Gaelic football, after taking charge of Killeshin.

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