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Northern Ireland v Greece: Family divided as Green and White Army prepare for crucial Euro qualifier

By Cate McCurry

Published 07/10/2015

Father and son Georgios and Jack Maravelakis outside their Greek restaurant Dollakis in Enniskillen ahead of the European Championship Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece
Father and son Georgios and Jack Maravelakis outside their Greek restaurant Dollakis in Enniskillen ahead of the European Championship Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece
Northern Ireland players in training yesterday ahead of the crunch game
Northern Ireland players in training yesterday ahead of the crunch game

As excitement builds ahead of Northern Ireland's crucial match against Greece tomorrow night, one Fermanagh family have found themselves at loggerheads.

With Northern Ireland facing their biggest game in 30 years, thousands of Northern Ireland fans will descend on Windsor Park for the showdown as the Euro 2016 dream comes within reaching distance.

And around 200 Greek fans are expected to take their places in the stands next to the 10,500 local fans who secured tickets.

One Greek fan who has been living in Co Fermanagh for the last 12 years has admitted he will be cheering on the visitors - but is expecting a bit of stick from the rest of his family.

Georgios Maravelakis (39) is half-Greek and half-Danish, and is head chef and co-owner of Dollakis, a Greek restaurant in Enniskillen.

But his Northern Irish wife Sarah, son Jack and daughter Georgia are all in the Green and White Army.

"It's funny because the camp at home is split with my wife being from Northern Ireland," he said.

"It's always good fun with all the games on as it means we can have a bit of banter with it.

"But I still think that Northern Ireland are going to win.

"Of course I would like Greece do well but I think it's a bit late for that now."

Despite not featuring in a major final since the 1986 World Cup, confidence in the Northern Ireland camp remains high.

Ian McKinney (34) is flying home from Birmingham tomorrow to watch the game.

The football fanatic admitted that he had given up hope of Northern Ireland qualifying, and that a shot at victory "would mean everything".

"We have been let down before so I tend to come at these things from a very negative standpoint so I'm prepared for the disappointment and if we don't get through we've had a really good run at it," he said.

Holywood fan Stephen Dunne (26) saw Northern Ireland pick up the crucial three points against the Faroe Islands.

He and five friends will be cheering on the boys in green in the stands. "There's a real momentum now within the campaign and team," he said.

"The excitement is really building towards Thursday night and it's looking good that we do the business."

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