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Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson backing Northern Ireland to make Euro 2016 splash - Paddy McNair

By Steven Beacom

Published 07/06/2016

Water start: Paddy McNair (centre) in training at St Georges de Reneins
Water start: Paddy McNair (centre) in training at St Georges de Reneins
Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson will be cheering on Northern Ireland in Nice in their opening Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland on Sunday, according to Manchester United youngster Paddy McNair.

The 21-year-old has revealed that the football icon informed him last month that he would be attending the historic match in the south of France when Northern Ireland play their first ever game in the European Championships.

McNair had a chance meeting with the former Manchester United boss in a hotel in London the day after the Red Devils defeated Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final.

More: Euro 2016: Relaxed mood in Northern Ireland camp belies determination to do Green and White Army proud

He said: "On the Sunday I was staying in London after the FA Cup final. I got in the lift and he was in it. He said good luck for France.

"He's going to the Poland game in Nice."

Ferguson, who kept a close eye on McNair when he was coming through the ranks at Old Trafford, enjoys holidaying in the south of France and clearly fancies taking in the Northern Ireland fixture when he is there.

He will know the challenges facing Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill having been in charge of Scotland in the 1986 World Cup finals.

More: Baird: Even in the bad times I never wanted to quit

Ferguson took the Scottish job on a caretaker basis following the tragic death of Jock Stein.

Northern Ireland's Chris Baird and Oliver Norwood pictured during their first press conference in the Media Centre in France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Chris Baird and Oliver Norwood pictured during their first press conference in the Media Centre in France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood pictured during his press conference in the Media Centre in France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Chris Baird pictured during his press conference in the Media Centre in France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's players run during a training session at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's captain Steven Davis (L) and coach Michael O'Neill (L) attend a training session while water spray at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's captain Steven Davis (L) and coach Michael O'Neill (L) attend a training session while water spray at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's forward Kyle Lafferty plays with the ball during a training session at their training ground in Saint-Georges-de-Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's forward Kyle Lafferty plays with the ball during a training session at their training ground in Saint-Georges-de-Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's defender Luke McCullough plays with the ball during a training session at their training ground in Saint-Georges-de-Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's main coach Michael O'Neill (C) and players attend a training session while water spray at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's main coach Michael O'Neill (2ndR) and players attend a training session while water spray at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's main coach Michael O'Neill (2ndR) and players attend a training session while water spray at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's players run during a training session at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's goalkeepers Roy Carroll (L) and Alan Mannus (C) run next to coach Maik Taylor (R) during a training session at their training ground in Saint-George-de-Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's defender Luke McCullough (L) vies with Northern Ireland's midfielder Oliver Norwood (R) during a training session at their training ground in Saint-George-de-Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's players attend a training session at their training ground in Saint-George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's players attend a training session at their training ground in Saint-George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's players attend a training session at their training ground in Saint-George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's main coach Michael O'Neill (2ndR) and players attend a training session while water spray at their training ground in Saint George de Reneins on June 6, 2016 during the Euro 2016 football tournament. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZESPHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland players pictured as they arrive at their team hotel at the start of their Euro 2016 adventure. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas, Jamie Ward and Kyle Lafferty pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland players pictured as they arrive at their team hotel at the start of their Euro 2016 adventure. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Media Centre in St Georges de Reneins, France which will be in use during the Euros 2016. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland players pictured as they arrive at their team hotel at the start of their Euro 2016 adventure. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland players pictured as they arrive at their team hotel at the start of their Euro 2016 adventure. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Lee Hodson and Conor Washington pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty, Josh Magennis, Gareth McAuley and Craig Cathcart pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty, Josh Magennis, Gareth McAuley and Craig Cathcart pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington and Shane Ferguson pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland coach pictured as the players step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland Manager Michael O'Neill pictured as he stepped off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill pictured as he stepped off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's David Currie pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland players and staff pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland players pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Alan Mannus pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Roy Carroll and Alan Mannus pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill and IFA President Jim Shaw pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill and IFA President Jim Shaw pictured as they step off the plane at Lyon Saint Exupery airport as they start their Euro 2016 adventure. They were met by the local Mayor and other dignitaries before getting onto the team coach and travelling to the team hotel. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 05th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Kyle Lafferty, Paddy McNair, Gareth McAuley, Michael McGovern, Craig Cathcart, Jonny Evans, Shane Ferguson, Oliver Norwood, Steven Davis, Jamie Ward, Chris Baird. Credit: Rafal Rusek / PressFocus
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes fans than you Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
Northern Ireland's Patrick McNair (right) and Slovakia's Dusan Svento battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/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 Kyle Lafferty exchanges words with Slovakia's Martin Skrtel during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/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 during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/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 during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Martin Skrtel (right) and Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty shake hands during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/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 Kyle Lafferty is spoken to by referee Radu Petrescu during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Martin Skrtel (rear) and Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Martin Skrtel (right) and Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Jan Durica (left) and Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/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 Aaron Hughes heads on goal during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Patrik Hrosovsky (right) and Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/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 Aaron Hughes during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/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 during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, OH - JUNE 04: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Keegan Bradley walk down the fairway on the first hole during the third round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 4, 2016 in Dublin, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty receives treatment during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/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 (right) and Slovakia's Patrik Hrosovsky battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/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 Aaron Hughes (right) and Slovakia's Martin Skrtel battle for the ball in the air during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Slovakia's Vladimir Weiss (L) and Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty (R) vie for a ball during the a UEFA EURO 2016 friendly football match between Slovakia and Northern Ireland in Trnava, on June 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEKVLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP/Getty Images
Slovakia's Martin Skrtel and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley and Northern Ireland's Chris Baird (R) vie for a ball during the a UEFA EURO 2016 friendly football match between Slovakia and Northern Ireland in Trnava, on June 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEKVLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP/Getty Images
Norhern Ireland's goalkeeper Michael McGovern (L) and Slovakia's Michal Duris and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley vie for a ball during the a UEFA EURO 2016 friendly football match between Slovakia and Northern Ireland in Trnava, on June 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEKVLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) and Slovakia's Martin Skrtel battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/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 Oliver Norwood (left) and Slovakia's Ondrej Duda battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Norhern Ireland's goalkeeper Michael McGovern (L) and Slovakia's Michal Duris and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley vie for a ball during the a UEFA EURO 2016 friendly football match between Slovakia and Northern Ireland in Trnava, on June 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEKVLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington reacts after a challenge on Slovakia's Martin Skrtel during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/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 (left) and Slovakia's Martin Skrtel battle for the ball during the International Friendly match at the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium, Trnava, Slovakia. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Slovakia. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Patrik Hrosovsky with Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Martin Skrtel with Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Northern Ireland fans during Saturday's International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland fans during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland fans during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Northern Ireland fan Kate Turner before Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty appeals for a penalty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Jamie Ward, Jan Durica Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michael Oneill Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michael Oneill Credit: Rafal Rusek / PressFocus
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Gareth McAuley, Dusan Svento Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Jamie Ward, Jan Durica Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Paddy McNair, Dusan Svento Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/06/2016 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Craig Cathcart, Marek Hamsik Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER
2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michael Oneill Credit: Rafal Rusek /PACEMAKER
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Jan Durica with Northern Ireland's Steven Davis during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty appeals for a penalty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Steven Davis during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Dusan Svento with Northern Ireland's Steven Davis during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Paddy McNair Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Steven Davis, Juraj Kucka Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty kontuzja Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty kontuzja Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty kontuzja Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Jonny Evans, Michal Duris, Chris Baird Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Gareth McAuley, Michal Duris Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes zmiana Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes zmiana Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Craig Cathcart, Gareth McAuley, Martin Skrtel Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Jonny Evans, Michal Duris, Chris Baird Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes zmiana Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Vladimir Weiss, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Vladimir Weiss, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek /PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Vladimir Weiss, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michael McGovern, Michal Duris Credit: Rafal Rusek / PPACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Shane Ferguson, Juraj Kucka Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek /PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michal Duris, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek /PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michal Duris, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Shane Ferguson, Juraj Kucka Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Shane Ferguson, Juraj Kucka Credit: Rafal Rusek / PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Michal Duris, Aaron Hughes Credit: Rafal Rusek /PACEMAKER BELFAST
PACEMAKER BELFAST 2016.06.04 Trnava, Slovakia Football Friendly Game Slovakia - Northern Ireland Kyle Lafferty, Paddy McNair, Gareth McAuley, Michael McGovern, Craig Cathcart, Jonny Evans, Shane Ferguson, Oliver Norwood, Steven Davis, Jamie Ward, Chris Baird grupowka, group Credit: Rafal Rusek / PressFocus
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Martin Skrtel with Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Martin Skrtel with Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Martin Skrtel with Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Vladimr Weiss with Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Aaron Hughes gets his 100th cap against Slovakia during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Dusan Svento with Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Vladimr Weiss with Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Aaron Hughes gets his 100th cap against Slovakia during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Jan Durica with Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Slovakia's Patrik Hrosovsky with Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Saturdays International Friendly at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 04th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during Saturdays International Friendly against Slovakia at the City Arena, Trnava. The game friendly is Northern Ireland's final warm-up game before travelling to their Euro 2016 base camp in France.

After O'Neill's men face Poland they play Ukraine in Lyon next Thursday and Germany in Paris on June 21.

Full story: Paddy McNair is in awe of boyhood Northern Ireland heroes Steven Davis and Aaron Hughes

The Northern Ireland football squad with manager Michael ONeill before leaving for the Euro Finals.
The Northern Ireland football squad with manager Michael ONeill before leaving for the Euro Finals.
Michael McGovern. Age: 31 Position: Goalkeeper Caps: 10 Goals: 0 Beacom’s verdict: Like a fine wine, Enniskillen man Michael is improving with age. Experience of Euro 2016 will make him even better.
Roy Carroll Age: 38 Position: Goalkeeper Caps: 44 Goals: 0 Beacom’s verdict: I’ve known Roy since he was a kid. Brilliant guy and a top goalkeeper. Now the Windsor penalty king, he is great for team morale.
Alan Mannus Age: 34 Position: Goalkeeper Caps: 8 Goals: 0 Beacom’s verdict: Third choice he may be, but if called upon, as he showed versus Belarus on Friday night, Alan won’t let the side down.
Craig Cathcart Age: 27 Position: Defender Caps: 27 Goals: 2 Beacom’s verdict: Has established himself as a quality Premier League defender and international. Vital to Northern Ireland now.
Jonny Evans Age: 28 Position: Defender Caps: 48 Goals: 1 Beacom’s verdict: Has the ability to have a big tournament and show why Manchester United should never have sold him.
Gareth McAuley Age: 36 Position: Defender Caps: 60 Goals: 7 Beacom’s verdict: Big G has become a huge favourite with the fans and rightly so. Huge influence and dangerous at set-pieces.
Luke McCullough Age: 22 Position: Defender Caps: 5 Goals: 0 Verdict: May not feature in France, but has an important part to play in training and be ready if required. Can learn much from likes of McAuley.
Conor McLaughlin Age: 24 Position: Defender Caps: 17 Goals: 0 Beacom’s verdict: Conor has been magnificent since being a surprise choice in the first Euro qualifier. Will relish shining in France.
Lee Hodson Age: 24 Position: Defender Caps: 15 Goals: 0 Beacom’s verdict: Clearly impressed manager Michael O’Neill in training to make the trip. Steady performer. Could get some game time.
Aaron Hughes Age: 36 Position: Defender Caps: 99 Goals: 1 Beacom’s verdict: Aaron is a Northern Ireland legend. Even when the team struggled he was Mr Consistency. Delighted he is going to the finals.
Paddy McNair Age: 21 Position: Defender Caps: 8 Goals: 0 Beacom’s verdict: Looks like a seasoned international when he plays in the holding midfield role for his country. Could be a key player in France.
Chris Baird Age: 34 Position: Defender Caps: 77 Goals: 0 Beacom’s verdict: Another brilliant servant. His vast experience will be needed on and off the pitch. Reliable when the going gets tough.
Steven Davis Age: 31 Position: Midfielder Caps: 82 Goals: 8 Beacom’s verdict: In my view Steven has become one of Northern Ireland’s greatest ever footballers. What a player. And a superb captain too.
Oliver Norwood Age: 25 Position: Midfielder Caps: 33 Goals: 0 Beacom’s verdict: How this man has grown under Michael O’Neill. Now an outstanding international and so crucial to how the team plays.
Corry Evans Age: 25 Position: Midfielder Caps: 33 Goals: 1 Beacom’s verdict: Works his socks off for the team no matter where he is asked to play. Could be a key substitute in group games.
Jamie Ward Age: 30 Position: Midfielder Caps: 21 Goals: 2 Beacom’s verdict: With his energy, this livewire often sets the tone early on for Northern Ireland. Underestimate him at your peril.
Stuart Dallas Age: 25 Position: Midfielder Caps: 13 Goals: 1 Beacom’s verdict: Like a few in this squad has flourished under the manager. Seems inspired every time he puts on a Northern Ireland shirt.
Niall McGinn Age: 28 Position: Midfielder Caps: 42 Goals: 2 Beacom’s verdict: Showed against Belarus he can make a big impact off the bench. That will be his important role at the Euros.
Shane Ferguson Age: 24 Position: Midfielder Caps: 24 Goals: 1 Beacom’s verdict: Has a lovely left foot and an ability to whip in dangerous crosses. Like a few here will be useful off the bench.
Will Grigg Age: 24 Position: Forward Caps: 8 Goals: 1 Beacom’s verdict: Forget the song for a second, if given the chance this guy can be a hit at Euro 2016 because he is a clinical finisher.
Kyle Lafferty Age: 28 Position: Forward Caps: 50 Goals: 17 Beacom’s verdict: Northern Ireland’s main man in attack. Inspirational and influential, Kyle has what it takes to be a star in France.
Conor Washington Age: 24 Position: Forward Caps: 3 Goals: 2 Beacom’s verdict: Sure to get game time at the finals, he could be a surprise element for the team. Certainly won’t be overawed.
Michael O’Neill Age: 46 Position: Manager Verdict: Michael is the manager with the Midas touch. It will take something special for Northern Ireland to make the knockout stages, but with this man in charge anything is possible.

Belfast Telegraph

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