Kyle Lafferty: I considered quitting Northern Ireland
Kyle relishing Euro high after overcoming low point
Northern Ireland hero Kyle Lafferty has revealed that he considered quitting the international scene three years ago following his lowest point in a green shirt.
In 2013, the striker, who celebrated his 50th cap on Friday night with a goal in the 3-0 home friendly win over Belarus, was needlessly red carded in a 4-2 home defeat to Portugal in a World Cup qualifier leading to criticism of the 28-year-old from all quarters, including the supporters.
The Fermanagh man admits the reaction hurt him so much that he thought about his future with Northern Ireland, but following conversations with manager Michael O'Neill and captain Steven Davis, he decided to continue.
Since then he has become a talisman for the team, scoring seven goals in the successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. Today, with the team due to depart Belfast for a training camp in Austria ahead of Saturday's friendly in Slovakia and the Euro finals in France, a Northern Ireland side without Lafferty would be unthinkable.
Speaking about how far he has come since that night in September 2013, Lafferty said: "I didn't think I'd see 50 caps. I wasn't even thinking about the next cap. I read stuff in the papers, I also read some stuff fans were saying that I should never wear the green shirt again and it hurt.
"I did think about chucking it but I spoke to Michael (O'Neill) and players like Davo (Steven Davis) and they basically talked me out of it. They made me realise I was too young to quit and now we are going to the Euro 2016 finals, which is incredible."