He takes a knockdown from John Aldridge and heads deliberately beyond Peter Shilton to the far post and England are beaten 1-0 in Stuttgart in the 1988 European Championships. He pounces on a slack clearance by Franco Baresi and volleys past Gianluca Pagliuca for Ireland to defeat Italy 1-0 in Giants Stadium in the 1994 World Cup.
The interventions from the former Liverpool and Aston Villa midfielder adorn the glittering history of the Jack Charlton regime, when Ireland qualified for major tournaments and thrilled their support with the unlikeliest of victories.
Houghton, though, has provided a service to his adopted country beyond his spectacular exploits on foreign fields. Early in 2008 he sat on a three-man board with the aim of finding the man who could take the Republic to another major finals.
Giovanni Trapattoni, then about to celebrate his 69th birthday, was the choice.
''It has gone the way we anticipated,'' said Houghton, with the casual assurance of the Castlemilk boy who has more than made his way in world football.
He pointed out that the prospective manager had to satisfy certain criteria. The most pressing was the capability to lead a team to the finals of tournaments.
Trapattoni, a coach who has won league championships in Italy, Germany, Austria and Portugal, was clearly identified as having ''the winning mentality''.
''It has worked out well. The remit was to qualify and it has taken two attempts. And we were very unfortunate with the first one with a Thierry Henry handball,'' said Houghton, who remains an ambassador for the Football Association of Ireland.
He is referring, of course, to the moment in Paris in November 2009 when Henry's unpunished offence led to William Gallas scoring the winner for France in a play-off for the World Cup in South Africa.
However, Ireland, who last qualified for a major tournament in 2002, ended the 10-year wait for a finals by beating Estonia 5-1 on aggregate in a play-off after finishing second to Russia in their qualifying group for this year's European Championships.
Houghton explained that the choice of Trapattoni was driven by the fear that Ireland would slide down the rankings and the country's qualification hopes would steadily become more difficult to fulfil.
''We were starting to finish third and fourth in the groups and it was beginning to hit the coefficient. There was a danger of us being seeded lower and lower, and so it was important that we started to finish higher up. He has done that.''
He pinpointed the reason. ''There is solidity and quality, but the biggest factor is that there is a winning mentality,'' said Houghton.
''I think we lost that for a while because when you are not qualifying then players start to think about what is going wrong, maybe overanalysing a little bit, and generally being down on themselves. There is a danger that the group loses confidence simply by continually falling short. He has changed that. He has got back that winning feeling. The players feel that when they go into games the opposition will have to play well to beat them.''
The Republic, who tonight play their final warm-up match against Hungary, lost only once in qualifying – to Russia at home – and have come unscathed through six friendly matches.
''When we sat down with Giovanni it was immediately clear he had that winning mindset and we believed he could instil that into the players. His record makes him a manager that players will listen to and there is something special about him in person. We knew he would hammer home the importance of winning to the squad.''
Houghton played in an Irish team that bristled with winners such as Roy Keane, Ronnie Whelan, Frank Stapleton, John Aldridge and Paddy Bonner. Managed by Jack Charlton, a World Cup winner, it was a group that believed in both its individual ability and its collective strength.
''Giovanni is excellent at preparation,'' said Houghton. ''He tells the players he believes in them and has them ready to face any game situation. The team is set up in a good shape and the players know precisely what is demanded of them. There are no grey areas. Focus is everything.''
The camaraderie in the squad is strong and Houghton believes that is essential in a team that must spend weeks together in the build-up to and the playing of finals matches.
''We only have a small pool but the group is tight-knit,'' he said. Houghton, who commentates for RTE, added: ''I have seen first hand what they are like. They get on well, they have a good understanding and they like being in one another's company. That really does carry over into matches where you fight that little bit harder for one another.''
Ireland are in a difficult group, with Croatia, Spain and Italy, and Houghton believes the first match will be crucial.
''If we can come out of the game against Croatia unbeaten, then we have a chance of progressing. We play Spain next and everything could rest on the match against the Italians and Giovanni has the indian sign on his country. Basically, if we score first in any game we will be difficult to beat.''
Houghton, who played in Italia '90 when he scored in the penalty shoot-out against Romania, has extensive experience of the finals of major tournaments, and has one piece of advice for the Irish players who travel to Poland for the Group C matches.
''You can get some players who are happy that they are there, as if they are making up the numbers. The one thing I would say – and it is the biggest thing I learned from playing in finals – is that you have to seize the opportunity. Don't sit back and let people dictate to you. Go on the front foot and make problems for others. Don't sit back and be overawed. In international football it can be down to who prepares best - and a bit of luck. It's not always down to the best players.''
However, any Irish success will depend on moments as crucial as those provided by Houghton in his pomp.
''Those goals are obviously something I am extremely proud of, and the fact that people constantly remind you of them shows how happy they are too. I will be hoping someone takes on that mantle this year,'' said Houghton. ''It would be nice for someone else to get in there and do the business for us.''
The best piece of business, however, may have been done over a table in 2008, when Houghton's choice accepted a job.