Northern Ireland

My life as an Estonian football coach - the fan who bluffed for Ireland

Conor Cunningham
Image caption Conor Cunningham bluffed for Ireland

An Irish football fan scored a goal of his own and set off on a fantasy football adventure when he bluffed his way into the Ireland v Estonia match last Friday without a ticket.

Conor Cunningham, 27, got into the game on Friday night and managed to bag himself a seat next to Estonian manager Tarmo Ruutli.

He then stood up close to Robbie Keane and Keith Andrews as they did TV interviews in the tunnel.

And it was all down to a "borrowed" Estonian tracksuit.

"I was just determined to see the match - 11 of us arrived in Tallinn for the game and we were being quoted 600 euros for tickets," he said.

"In the end, 10 of us got into the stadium - but I definitely got the best story and photos."

The part-time fitness instructor from Cork tried to pretend he was a security guard to gain admission. When that did not work, he spotted an open doorway and thought it might lead into the ground.

"It was a corridor and a dead end. But I did see a bag of footballs and, when I picked them up, spotted an Estonian tracksuit underneath them. He pulled it on and walked into the stadium.

He went to the Estonian dug-out and realised he was sitting next to the manager. After a while, he was spotted and told to move.

"When the match was over and Ireland had qualified, I said I'd chance my arm and I walked out on to the pitch. I celebrated with the players, shook hands with them all and even asked a few could I have their jerseys.

Suspicious

"They were all really nice -- they apologised and said they'd already promised the jerseys to friends and family. But Keith Andrews said I could have his - though I didn't get to see him again after they went into the dressing room," he said.

Eventually an Estonian team official got suspicious about how a man in an Estonian tracksuit was celebrating with the Irish so much.

"She came over to me and started talking to me and I just said I had to bring the bag of footballs back," he said.

Outside the stadium, he told his friends about his adventure, then posted a video to the Irish Independent.

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