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Jimmy Quinn visits Windsor Park on first trip back home with children

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland football legend Jimmy Quinn has described how he felt "very emotional" bringing his children to the country of his birth for the first time.

Quinn, who won 46 caps and scored 12 international goals and famously helped Northern Ireland qualify for the 1986 World Cup, took an unforgettable trip down memory lane with his family over the Easter period.

Proud dad Jimmy (56), who lives in Crewe in Cheshire, flew into his native Belfast at the weekend with his children Julie (37), Samantha (32), Lewis (29) and Alexander (8) to show them where he grew up in Rathcoole, as well as visit some of Northern Ireland's top tourist sights.

And, of course, there was a trip to Windsor Park, where he became such a hero with the Green and White Army for his commitment to the cause and class in attack.

Quinn, who was 11 when he left Northern Ireland with his parents to live in England, said: "It was brilliant going back to Windsor.

"It is so different to when I played there in the '80s and '90s. So much has changed and the stadium is magnificent.

"It's no wonder the team are doing so well in home games, playing in a stadium like that. It was my first time at Windsor since it was done up and I was really impressed.

"It brought back a lot of memories from when we were playing under Billy Bingham and doing really well."

The former Reading and Bournemouth manager added that returning to the area where he played as a child was an overwhelming experience.

"I took my children down to Hazelbank at the bottom of Rathcoole. Me and two brothers used to go there and play all the time in all weathers," said Quinn, a renowned goalscorer in his playing career that spanned three decades and numerous clubs including Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City and West Ham.

"I found it very emotional taking my children to where I used to play as a kid. It was lovely for all of us and the thing is unlike so many other areas in Belfast it hadn't changed a bit.

"We also visited where I used to live but there are new houses there now, we went to the Titanic Experience in Belfast and all over the city including the Falls Road and Shankill Road."

Quinn, whose kids enjoyed their first Ulster Fry at his sister Jean's house in Glenarm and loved a trip to the Giant's Causeway yesterday, added: "It's the first time the kids have been over so this was a big thing for me.

"Every one of them said they would definitely come back, which made me happy because I've always seen Northern Ireland as a very special place.

"I have spoken to my children about Northern Ireland and a little bit about the history of the place and the Troubles.

"It was fantastic for me to show them that the divides aren't as great as people might think.

"I know when I played for Northern Ireland our squad was mixed and we all got on brilliantly.

"That's the way it should be," he added.

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