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Kyle Lafferty: I'm now a better person and better striker

New wife Vanessa and NI boss inspire Windsor hero

By Steven Beacom

Published 30/05/2016

Members of the Northern Ireland football squad join Manager Michael O'Neill as they leave the Culloden Hotel to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Members of the Northern Ireland football squad join Manager Michael O'Neill as they leave the Culloden Hotel to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Members of the Northern Ireland football squad join Manager Michael O'Neill as they leave the Culloden Hotel to take part in a training camp in Austria in advance of the 2016 Euros. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Fans watch manager Michael O'Neill making the squad announcement. Photo: Kelvin Boyes
IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Manager Michael O'Neil making the squad announcement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th May 2016 - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. In what is being hailed as one of the most significant events in local sporting history, Northern Ireland have qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 due to take place in France next month. Manager Michael OÕNeil is pictured making the squad announcement.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th May 2016 - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. In what is being hailed as one of the most significant events in local sporting history, Northern Ireland have qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 due to take place in France next month. Manager Michael OÕNeil is pictured making the squad announcement.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 28/05/2016 Northern Ireland manager Michael ONeill announces his squad for Euro 2016 in France at Titanic Belfast this afternoon. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 28/05/2016 Northern Ireland manager Michael ONeill announces his squad for Euro 2016 in France at Titanic Belfast this afternoon. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 28/05/2016 Northern Ireland manager Michael ONeill announces his squad for Euro 2016 in France at Titanic Belfast this afternoon. Pictured is Colin Murray. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 28/05/2016 Northern Ireland manager Michael ONeill announces his squad for Euro 2016 in France at Titanic Belfast this afternoon. Pictured are Northern Ireland legends Peter McParland, Pat Genninings and Billy Hamilton. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 28/05/2016 Northern Ireland manager Michael ONeill announces his squad for Euro 2016 in France at Titanic Belfast this afternoon. Pictured is Colin Murray. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th May 2016 - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. In what is being hailed as one of the most significant events in local sporting history, Northern Ireland have qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 due to take place in France next month. Manager Michael OÕNeil is pictured making the squad announcement.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th May 2016 - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. In what is being hailed as one of the most significant events in local sporting history, Northern Ireland have qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 due to take place in France next month. Manager Michael OÕNeil.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th May 2016 - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. In what is being hailed as one of the most significant events in local sporting history, Northern Ireland have qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 due to take place in France next month. Fans watch Manager Michael OÕNeil making the squad announcement.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th May 2016 - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. In what is being hailed as one of the most significant events in local sporting history, Northern Ireland have qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 due to take place in France next month. Fans watch Manager Michael OÕNeil making the squad announcement.
IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. Manager Michael O'Neill is pictured making the squad announcement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th May 2016 - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. IFA Squad announcement at Titanic Belfast. In what is being hailed as one of the most significant events in local sporting history, Northern Ireland have qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 due to take place in France next month. Manager Michael OÕNeil is pictured with his family before making the squad announcement.
Northern Ireland football legends Peter McParland, Pat Jennings and Billy Hamilton at the squad announcement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Northern Ireland fans display a banner before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. Pic Niall Carson
Will Grigg. Pic kevin Scott
Matthew,Chris,Robyn and Richard Knox from Lisburn watching Northern Ireland and Belarus during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland President Jim Shaw. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) celebrates with team-mate Kyle Lafferty (centre) after scoring his side's second goal during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas (left) and Belarus' Nikolai Yanush battle for the ball during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (11) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring his side's second goal during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington (R) of Northern Ireland scores during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington (R) of Northern Ireland scores during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Belarus' Igor Shitov (left) and Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas battle for the ball during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's fans celebrate the second goal against Belarus during an international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Belarus at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 27, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty rues a missed chance during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (R) celebrates after scoring the team's second goal against Belarus during an international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Belarus at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 27, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington celebrates after scoring the team's second goal against Belarus during an international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Belarus at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 27, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) and Belarus' Nikita Korzun battle for the ball during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Kyle Lafferty of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington (L) of Northern Ireland and Mikita Korzun (R) of Belarus during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Paddy McNair and Belarus' Siarhei Krivets in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Amy and Callum Lister from Belfast in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Score 1-0 vs Belarus in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Score 1-0 vs Belarus in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Roy Carroll celebrating in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Roy Carroll celebrating in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands XXX and Belarus' YYY in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands XXX and Belarus' YYY in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland President Jim Shaw. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Luke McCullough and Belarus' Siarhei Kisliak in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Belarus fan during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Belarus Alyaksandr Martynovich (Captain) during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Belarus Egor Filipenko during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Belarus Egor Filipenko during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty scores a goal past Belarus goal keeper Andrei Harbunov during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Stuart Dallas and Belarus Mikhail Hardzeichuk during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Stuart Dallas and Belarus Ihar Shitau during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Steven Davis and Belarus Nikita Korzun during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Chris Baird and Belarus Maksim Valadzko during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Roy Carroll in action during the friendly between Northern Ireland and Belarus as the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty challenged by Belarus Ihar Shitau and Mikhail Hardzeichuk during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Roy Carroll in action during the friendly between Northern Ireland and Belarus as the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland Legends Pat Jennings and Sammy McIlroy. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland Legend Pat Jennings. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland Legends Pat Jennings and Sammy McIlroy. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Windsor Park in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Windsor Park in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Amy and Callum Lister from Belfast in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Andy and Micky Longstaff from Crumlin in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 Vauxhall International Challenge Match Northern Ireland Vs Belarus at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Left to right. Flag bearers Sara Lockhead, Benjamin Jackson and Jody Burns. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Windsor Park in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Heather and Keith Cassell with Kate Turner in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Simon and Martin Thompson with Jeff Patterson in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 Vauxhall International Challenge Match Northern Ireland Vs Belarus at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Left to right. Flag bearers Jody Burns, Alex Corr, Sara Lockhead and Benjamin Jackson Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Graeme Beggs and family in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands David and Adam Orr in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye George Emerson with his son Cameron aged 14 from Bangor watching Northern Ireland and Belarus during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Jennifer Simpson and Kathleen Graham from Newtownabbey watching Northern Ireland and Belarus during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Darren Hamill and son Scott, aged 10, from Lisburn watching Northern Ireland and Belarus during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: A Northern Ireland fan poses with a green beret before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland fans in the stands before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Chris Baird before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair high-fives some fans before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair high-fives some fans before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Belarus players take a stroll on the pitch before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland players pictured before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty (L) and Stuart Dallas (R) pose with fans before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Belarus players take a stroll on the pitch before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland players pictured before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Kyle Lafferty has spoken about how new wife Vanessa has helped make him a better person and a better striker.

And as he and the Northern Ireland squad prepared to leave Belfast today in preparation for the Euro 2016 finals, the striker also paid tribute to the influence of manager Michael O'Neill and skipper Steven Davis.

Lafferty is asked to do numerous interviews nowadays and every time he answers the questions with honesty and a new found maturity. He remains the fun character he has always been around his team-mates, but relishes the responsibility of being one of Northern Ireland's key figures on the pitch with a ball at his feet or off it when a microphone is placed in front of his face.

He rarely disappoints.

After winning his 50th cap for his country on Friday and scoring against Belarus in a 3-0 friendly win at Windsor Park, Lafferty spoke about three years ago when he considered quitting international football and the part Vanessa, who he married earlier this month, has played in turning his life and career around.

He will go to the Euro finals in France with Northern Ireland fans pinning their hopes on him adding to his 17 international goals and firing the country into the knockout stages.

"I think Vanessa has played a massive part in this. It is no coincidence that I started to score goals being with Vanessa. That says it all. I've scored more goals in the last nine or 10 games than I did in the last eight years and that speaks for itself," said the 28-year-old from Kesh.

"She's incredible. I've always praised Michael (O'Neill) for turning it around for me but they both deserve credit."

Thoughts of leaving the international scene entered Lafferty's head after being sent off in a 4-2 loss at home to Portugal in a World Cup qualifier in 2013. He was heavily criticised by O'Neill for being 'reckless' as well as the media and the supporters.

The Norwich forward said: "I didn't think I'd see 50 caps. To be honest, back then I wasn't even thinking about the next cap.

Northern Ireland players celebrate the final Windsor park home game before the Euro finals. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland players celebrate the final Windsor park home game before the Euro finals. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Will Grigg. Pic kevin Scott
Northern Ireland players celebrate.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland captain Steve Davis celebrates with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland Goal Scorers , Conor Washington, Will Grigg and Kyle Lafferty after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland captain Steve Davis celebrates with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland captain Steve Davis celebrates with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland Manager Michael O'Neill after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players celebrate with the fans after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland players during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland Manager Michael O'Neill after this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 Vauxhall International Challenge Match Northern Ireland Vs Belarus at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Left to right. Northern Ireland win the match 3-0 and are givien a send of as they head to France for the Euro's. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Northern Ireland players during a celebration send-off before the team leaves for Euro 2016 after the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Irelands Kyle Lafferty gets his shorts pulled down during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Irelands Kyle Lafferty gets his shorts pulled down during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Irelands Kyle Lafferty gets his shorts pulled down during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland celebrate during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland celebrate during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Irelands Michael O'Neill during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Irelands Steven Davis during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Ireland celebrate during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Northern Irelands Steven Davis during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty (R), Will Grigg (C) and Conor Washington (L) after the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland players during a celebration send-off before the team leaves for Euro 2016 after the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland players during a celebration send-off before the team leaves for Euro 2016 after the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland fans display a banner during a celebration send-off before the team leaves for Euro 2016 after the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland players during a celebration send-off before the players leave for Euro 2016 after the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Kyle Lafferty of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Will Grigg scores in action during the friendly between Northern Ireland and Belarus as the last home game before heading to the Euros. Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye
Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) celebrates with team-mate Kyle Lafferty (centre) after scoring his side's second goal during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas (left) and Belarus' Nikolai Yanush battle for the ball during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (11) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring his side's second goal during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington (R) of Northern Ireland scores during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington (R) of Northern Ireland scores during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Belarus' Igor Shitov (left) and Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas battle for the ball during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's fans celebrate the second goal against Belarus during an international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Belarus at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 27, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty rues a missed chance during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (R) celebrates after scoring the team's second goal against Belarus during an international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Belarus at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 27, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington celebrates after scoring the team's second goal against Belarus during an international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Belarus at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 27, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) and Belarus' Nikita Korzun battle for the ball during the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Conor Washington (L) of Northern Ireland and Mikita Korzun (R) of Belarus during the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Roy Carroll in action during the friendly between Northern Ireland and Belarus as the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty challenged by Belarus Ihar Shitau and Mikhail Hardzeichuk during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Roy Carroll in action during the friendly between Northern Ireland and Belarus as the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Chris Baird and Belarus Maksim Valadzko during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Steven Davis and Belarus Nikita Korzun during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Stuart Dallas and Belarus Ihar Shitau during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Stuart Dallas and Belarus Mikhail Hardzeichuk during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty scores a goal past Belarus goal keeper Andrei Harbunov during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Belarus Egor Filipenko during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Belarus Egor Filipenko during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Belarus Alyaksandr Martynovich (Captain) during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/05/2016 Northern Ireland v Belarus Friendly International Belarus fan during this evenings Friendly International at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Luke McCullough and Belarus' Siarhei Kisliak in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 27-5-16 Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty celebrates his goal during tonight's game at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands XXX and Belarus' YYY in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland Legends Pat Jennings and Sammy McIlroy. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland Legend Pat Jennings. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland Legends Pat Jennings and Sammy McIlroy. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland President Jim Shaw. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Sports Minister Paul Givan MLA pictured at the National Stadium, Windsor Park with Northern Ireland President Jim Shaw. The Minister wished the Northern Ireland team every success as they continue their preparations for the European Championship Finals in France.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands XXX and Belarus' YYY in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Paddy McNair and Belarus' Siarhei Krivets in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Roy Carroll celebrating in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Roy Carroll celebrating in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Score 1-0 vs Belarus in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Score 1-0 vs Belarus in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Kyle Lafferty and Stuart Dallas pose with fans before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Windsor Park in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Amy and Callum Lister from Belfast in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Windsor Park in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Amy and Callum Lister from Belfast in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Andy and Micky Longstaff from Crumlin in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 Vauxhall International Challenge Match Northern Ireland Vs Belarus at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Left to right. Flag bearers Sara Lockhead, Benjamin Jackson and Jody Burns. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Windsor Park in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Heather and Keith Cassell with Kate Turner in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Simon and Martin Thompson with Jeff Patterson in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th May 2016 Vauxhall International Challenge Match Northern Ireland Vs Belarus at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Left to right. Flag bearers Jody Burns, Alex Corr, Sara Lockhead and Benjamin Jackson Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands Graeme Beggs and family in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - May 27, Pictured is Northern Irelands David and Adam Orr in action during the last home game before heading to the Euros on May 27 2016 in Belfast , Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye George Emerson with his son Cameron aged 14 from Bangor watching Northern Ireland and Belarus during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Jennifer Simpson and Kathleen Graham from Newtownabbey watching Northern Ireland and Belarus during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 27th May 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Darren Hamill and son Scott, aged 10, from Lisburn watching Northern Ireland and Belarus during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Matthew,Chris,Robyn and Richard Knox from Lisburn watching Northern Ireland and Belarus during Friday night's Vauxhall Friendly International match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: A Northern Ireland fan poses with a green beret before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland fans in the stands before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Northern Ireland's Chris Baird before the International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 27, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair high-fives some fans before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair high-fives some fans before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Belarus players take a stroll on the pitch before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland players pictured before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty (L) and Stuart Dallas (R) pose with fans before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Belarus players take a stroll on the pitch before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 27: Northern Ireland players pictured before the international friendly game between Northern Ireland and Belarus on May 26, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

"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 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 I'm never going to be a person to hide behind others. I'm big enough to come out and take the blame on my shoulders and that is what I've done.

"I did enjoy going out and proving everybody wrong about me.

"To score my 17th goal in 50 caps just makes me even more hungry and there's a record there to go for. I'm not saying I will overtake David Healy (Northern Ireland's record goalscorer on 36 goals) but hopefully it's something I'll go close to.

"My strike-rate is good but if my head was where it is now seven years ago, I think I'd be much closer to it. I'm looking towards the future now and if I keep going the way I am it can be a good future for me and Northern Ireland.

"I regret some things but it is a part of growing up. I've had good people around me and I've had bad people. But now I can only see myself with the good people who make me a better person.

"I know my family are every bit as proud of me as I am."

Lafferty was overjoyed to score on Friday and believes it bodes well for the coming weeks in France.

He said: "I've had a good week and I'm sure it will only get better when we go to France. The hunger is there to go out and put my name up in lights.

"It's going to be an exciting summer and we are going there to make a name for ourselves. We want to send out a massive statement to everyone that we are not the team we were five or six years ago and we are going places."

Belfast Telegraph

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