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21st Jun 2018

Slaven Bilic didn’t know what to make of Martin O’Neill’s Eusebio anecdote

He got there eventually

Patrick McCarry

He got there eventually

Slaven Bilic looked to be missing his old mucker Roy Keane as Ireland manager Martin O’Neill took him, and ITV viewers, on a rambling anecdote.

Bilic has been a main-stay on the ITV panel and he was drafted in for the broadcaster’s coverage of France’s World Cup group game against Peru. The dish is an appetiser for Bilic as he will then be tucking into the main course of his native Croatia’s match against Argentina.

The former West Ham and Croatia boss was joined in the pundits’ chairs by Eni Aluko and O’Neill.

The panel were discussing the accusations from Morocco’s Nordin Amrabat – of referee Mark Geiger allegedly asking Portugal’s Pepé and Cristiano Ronaldo if he could have their jerseys – when O’Neill slid in with an anecdote that was worth the wait.

Recalling a friendly match between his Northern Ireland side and the Portugal side containing Eusebio, O’Neill was clearly enjoying himself. Bilic, sitting beside him, was nonplussed for most of the tale.

The Croatian stared blankly at O’Neill as he spoke about chasing down the Portuguese legend and getting a souvenir that, to this day, he still has.

“He takes his shorts off as they have this beautiful pannelling down the side, depicting the national colours. Just exquisite. And Eusebio has worn them.

“And he gives me his shorts before he heads off to the dressing room. I still have them. I still have them, all these years later. I wear them down at the beach sometimes and people think I’m Eusebio!”

Well worth the wait, even if it only got a polite smile from Bilic.

We want to see a snap of O’Neill in those vintage shorts.