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

By Steven Beacom

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.

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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.

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

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

Belfast Telegraph