Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland fans to play German supporters ahead of crunch match

Northern Ireland's fans are hoping for an historic victory of their own as they play their German counterparts ahead of Tuesday's crunch match.

The face-off will be held close to the Eiffel Tower in the centre of Paris ahead of Northern Ireland's final European Championship group game at the Parc des Princes.

They held a warm-up match on Sunday against the French town closest to the war memorial to the First World War Somme dead - the Ulster Tower.

Manager Alan Ferris said the after-match party lasted until 2am.

He admitted the Germans could be tough opponents.

"I am always optimistic but we don't know what the opposition is going to be like.

"It just depends who shows up but we have 24 people who want to play against them."

The fans' team was established nearly 20 years ago to promote fun and friendship through football and from 2001 it has grown in stature and received the backing of Northern Ireland football's governing body, the Irish Football Association (IFA), which provided it with kit.

It operates under the ethos of football for all and aims to tackle racism in the game while raising large amounts for good causes.

Mr Ferris added: "We have played dozens of games home and away against opposing teams and during our travels we have raised thousands and thousands of pounds towards different charities."

They are fundraising this year for Street Soccer Northern Ireland, which helps people from disadvantaged backgrounds, such as the homeless. Previously the team has raised money for orphans and victims of natural disasters.

They played Albert Sports Club on Sunday. Albert is close to Thiepval, where thousands of Ulster soldiers lost their lives during the First World War. Albert is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.

Amid lavish hospitality, the president of Sporting Albert invited the team to return next year for a European youth tournament.

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