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Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece: Captain fantastic Steven Davis hits the double on the road to France

By Steven Beacom

Published 09/10/2015

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is lifted into the air by his players after the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is lifted into the air by his players after the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland Manager celebrates with his players after Thursday evening's game at Windsor park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland's manager Micheal O'Neill (C) celebrates with Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis (L) and Gareth McAuley (R) after winning the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland fans celebrate after Northern Ireland won the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland fans celebrate after Northern Ireland won the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland fans celebrate after Northern Ireland won the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates after winning the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates after winning the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Gareth McAuley of Northern Ireland celebrates after this evenings Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Gareth McAuley of Northern Ireland celebrates after this evenings Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis celebrates after scoring his side's third goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans wave a banner in the stands reading "Northern Ireland welcome to France Euro 2016" during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland Steven Davis (not pictured) celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's third goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis celebrates after scoring his side's third goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's manager Micheal O'Neill (C)c celebrates his team's second goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland midfielder Steven Davis (C) celebrates with Northern Ireland's defender Gareth McAuley (R) after scoring his team's third goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis (centre, left) celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match with Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill (right) during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis (not pictured) scores his side's second goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis scores his side's second goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Stuart Dallas of Northern Ireland (2nd L) and Vasilis Torosidis of Greece (R) during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Steve Davis (L) of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Greece's Alexandros Tziolis (left) and Panagiotis Kone (centre) battle for the ball with Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Golfer Rory McIlroy during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland team celebrate Steven Davis' first goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis (centre) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis (centre) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis (right, number 8) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis (right, number 8) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the match with teammates during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's defender Gareth McAuley (R) vies for the ball with Greece's forward Kostas Mitroglou during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's midfielder Steven Davis (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Steve Davis (L) of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Steve Davis (L) of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Greece's Konstantinos Mitroglou and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley (left) battle for the ball during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Greece's Konstantinos Mitroglou and Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley (left) battle for the ball during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Greece's Panagiotis Kone and Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood (right) battle for the ball the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis in action during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland team before the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Corry Evans (R) vie for the ball with Greece's Andreas Samaris during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying Group F football match between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Josh Magennis of Northern Ireland (L) and Vangelis Moras of Greece (R) during the Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 8: Greece fans attends the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier between Northern Ireland and Greece at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty and Johnny Evans before Thursday night's UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifier at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/PressEye
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill inspects the pitch before Thursday evening's Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill before Thursday night's UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifier at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/PressEye
Northern Ireland captain Steve Davis reads the match day programme before Thursday evening's Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland v Greece Euro 2016 Qualifier Group Group F Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans and Kyle Lafferty during this evenings game at Windsor park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland v Greece Euro 2016 Qualifier Group Group F Northern Ireland's Ryan McLaughlin , Jonny Evans , Kyle Lafferty and Aaron Hughes during this evenings game at Windsor park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland v Greece Euro 2016 Qualifier Group Group F Northern Ireland's Conor McLaughlin , Jonny Evans and Kyle Lafferty during this evenings game at Windsor park in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis makes his way off the pitch before this evening's Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill inspects the pitch before this evening's Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland captain Steve Davis reads the match day programme before this evening's Euro 2016 Group F international football match at Windsor Park on October 8, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Are you ready France? We are coming. Northern Ireland have qualified for the Euro 2016 finals.

Repeat: Northern Ireland have qualified for the Euro 2016 finals.

Sounds good. Almost too good to be true, but believe it. It's happening.

For the first time ever Northern Ireland have made it to the European Championship finals.

And next year for the first time since the 1986 World Cup, Northern Ireland will play in a major championships after captain fantastic Steven Davis and the goalkeeper turned goalgetter Josh Magennis netted in a stunning 3-1 victory amid a rip roaring atmosphere at Windsor Park. Among the crowd were Northern Ireland sporting greats Rory McIlroy and Carl Frampton.

This group of Northern Ireland players, like those two, and magnificent manager Michael O'Neill are legends here now.

The brilliant Davis scored twice with Magennis netting in between in one of the greatest nights in Northern Ireland football history. Make that one of the greatest nights in Northern Ireland history. Period.

How far this team and manager have come.

In O'Neill's first campaign in charge, Northern Ireland won just once in 10 World Cup qualifiers. It may have been a superb victory secured against Russia, but beating Fabio Capello's side did not make up for dismal home draws against Luxembourg and Azerbaijan and humiliating defeats away to the same opposition.

Back then some fans and some IFA officials felt O'Neill was not the man for the job.

Northern Ireland fans in the stands prior to the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands prior to the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands prior to the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands prior to the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis in action during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
A Northern Ireland fan in the stands during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Greece fans during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
A Northern Ireland fan waves the French flag during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Boxer Carl Frampton before the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday October 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans at Ryans Bar in Belfast ahead of the Euro Qualifier at Windsor Park. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Excited Northern Ireland fans before this evenings crucial game against Greece at Windsor Park. Carley Strong and Audrey McClements. Picture Matt Bohill.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 08/10/2015 Excited Northern Ireland fans before this evenings crucial game against Greece at Windsor Park. Ian Irwin Annette McCauley and Richie Irwin. Picture Matt Bohill.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 08/10/2015 Excited Northern Ireland fans before this evenings crucial game against Greece at Windsor Park. Jake Quinn and his dad Graham Quinn. Picture Matt Bohill.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 08/10/2015 Excited Northern Ireland fans before this evenings crucial game against Greece at Windsor Park. Warren Beatty, Laura Jane Kernaghan, Lee Finley, Gareth Mcquillan and Johnny McKinstry. Picture Matt Bohill.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 08/10/2015 Excited Northern Ireland fans before this evenings crucial game against Greece at Windsor Park. Northern Ireland fans get behind their team on the Lisburn road before the game. Picture Matt Bohill.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Thursday 8th October 2015 - Belfast Northern Ireland - Northern Ireland vs Greece FANS Pictured is Northern Ireland fans at Laverys bar in Belfast ahead of the Euro Qualifier at Windsor Park. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Thursday 8th October 2015 - Belfast Northern Ireland - Northern Ireland vs Greece FANS Pictured is Northern Ireland fans at Laverys bar in Belfast ahead of the Euro Qualifier at Windsor Park. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Thursday 8th October 2015 - Belfast Northern Ireland - Northern Ireland vs Greece FANS Pictured is Northern Ireland fans Lee Leckey and Jonny Wylie at Laverys bar in Belfast ahead of the Euro Qualifier at Windsor Park. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Thursday 8th October 2015 - Belfast Northern Ireland - Northern Ireland vs Greece FANS Pictured is Northern Ireland fan Gareth McQuillan at Laverys bar in Belfast ahead of the Euro Qualifier at Windsor Park. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Thursday 8th October 2015 - Belfast Northern Ireland - Northern Ireland vs Greece FANS Pictured is Northern Ireland fans Ian Bannatyne, Ryan Armstrong, Stuart Gowey, Gary Herron, Phil Bannatyne, Billy Rankin and Ian Morrow at Laverys bar in Belfast ahead of the Euro Qualifier at Windsor Park. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Thursday 8th October 2015 - Belfast Northern Ireland - Northern Ireland vs Greece FANS Pictured is Northern Ireland fans Adam Shilliday, Stuart Mclees, Trevor Henderson and Glen Muir at Laverys bar in Belfast ahead of the Euro Qualifier at Windsor Park. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Thursday 8th October 2015 - Belfast Northern Ireland - Northern Ireland vs Greece FANS Pictured is Northern Ireland fans Ryan Weir, James Irwin and Peter Graham from Omagh at Laverys bar in Belfast ahead of the Euro Qualifier at Windsor Park. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
PACEMAKER BELFAST 08/10/2015 Excited Northern Ireland fans before this evenings crucial game against Greece at Windsor Park. Johnathan Irvine and Oliver Norwoods dad (right) before the match. Picture Matt Bohill.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Thursday 8th October 2015 - Belfast Northern Ireland - Northern Ireland vs Greece FANS Pictured is Northern Ireland fans at Ryans Bar in Belfast ahead of the Euro Qualifier at Windsor Park. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Thursday 8th October 2015 - Belfast Northern Ireland - Northern Ireland vs Greece FANS Pictured is Northern Ireland fans at Ryans Bar in Belfast ahead of the Euro Qualifier at Windsor Park. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Northern Ireland fan Christian king during Thursday nights UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifier against Greece at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry / PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 08th October 2015 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland fans Christian king and George king during Thursday nights UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifier against Greece at Windsor Park, Belfast.
Stephen Warke getting in the mood for Northern Ireland v Greece
Colin (@ards1985) via Twitter: watching hopefully later in sunny Orlando with @kirstywoo85
Actor Glenn Speers (@GlennSpeers) via Twitter: I'll be following score in my dressing room in The Commitments at The Palace Theatre London
Euro 2016 Qualifier - Northern Ireland Vs Hungary at Windsor Park, Belfast. Northern Ireland legend David Healy watching the match with fans. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
J McLorn with his son David at Windsor Park. Pic: J McLorn
Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland fans during this evenings game at Windsor park. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland's fans during the game at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland's fans during today's game at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland's fans before the game at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland's fans before the game at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland fans George King with twin son's Mason and Christain before the match against Hungary during Monday night's UEFA EURO 2016 Group F Qualifier at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park, Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Northern Ireland fans (L-R) Charlotte Cummings with her father Paul and sister Zoe from Antrim. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Mason King (12) with his father George King, twin brother Christian and Daren Leighton from Donegal Pass. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Northern Ireland fans (L-R) Ethan Gibson(14), Lewis Orr-McCauley(16), Mathew Gibson(12), Samantha Orr-McCauley(6) and Grant Orr-McCauley(11). Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Northern Ireland v Hungary at Windsor Park, Belfast. Northern Ireland fans Mark Paul with his son Rhys and Gary from Newtownabbey. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Northern Ireland fan Daniel Gracey (5) Ballymoney during Monday night's UEFA EURO 2016 Group F Qualifier at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park, Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Buddy and Mylo watching at home. Photo: Kristine Hill
David McLorn before going to Windsor Park. Photo: J McLorn
Rory Beattie (8 months) getting ready to watch the match. Photo: Linda Taylor
Husband and wife Neil and Lorainne Fentie are looking forward to the big match against Hungary at Windsor Park. Picture Matt Bohill.
Northern Ireland fans Matthew Kernaghan, James Abraham, Ryan Blakely and Ben Speers cant wait for the big match at Windsor Park. Photo: Matt Bohill Pacemaker Press.
Little Jake Quinn who is to lead out the Hungarian national team at Windsor Park cheers on Northern Ireland on top of his dad Graham Quinn's shoulders. Picture Matt Bohill Pacemaker Press.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill ahead of the match against Hungary during Monday night's UEFA EURO 2016 Group F Qualifier at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park, Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Northern Ireland Niall McGinn, Stuart Dallas and Josh Magennis ahead of the match against Hungary during Monday night's UEFA EURO 2016 Group F Qualifier at the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park, Belfast. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Northern Ireland players during Sundays training session at Windsor Park ahead of Monday nights Euro 2016 Qualifier against Hungary.
Northern Ireland players during Sundays training session at Windsor Park ahead of Monday nights Euro 2016 Qualifier against Hungary.
Hungary manager Bernd Storck during Sundays training session at Windsor Park ahead of Monday nights Euro 2016 Qualifier against Northern Ireland.
Hungary players during Sundays training session at Windsor Park ahead of Monday nights Euro 2016 Qualifier against Northern Ireland.
Hungary players during Sundays training session at Windsor Park ahead of Monday nights Euro 2016 Qualifier against Northern Ireland.
Hungary manager Bernd Storck during Sundays training session at Windsor Park ahead of Monday nights Euro 2016 Qualifier against Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas during Sundays training session at Windsor Park ahead of Monday nights Euro 2016 Qualifier against Hungary.
Hungary manager Bernd Storck during Sundays training session at Windsor Park ahead of Monday nights Euro 2016 Qualifier against Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland's Chris Baird during Sundays training session at Windsor Park ahead of Monday nights Euro 2016 Qualifier against Hungary.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill (right) at this morning's training session - Hungary awaits. Picture - David Hunter.
Hungary on the horizon as Northern Ireland train at Windsor Park. Picture - David Hunter.

Thankfully, guided by President Jim Shaw, the 46-year-old was given an extension to his contract by the IFA and look at what he has achieved.

He's up there with Northern Ireland managerial greats Peter Doherty and Billy Bingham as the only men to have inspired the country to the finals of a major tournament.

1958, 1982, 1986 and now 2016.

This team have done our wee country proud and last night they showed what a squad effort it has been with an exceptional performance which not only guaranteed qualification for the Euro finals, but also put us in pole position to top the group. Amazing.

Minus the suspended Kyle Lafferty, Chris Baird and Conor McLaughlin plus the injured Jonny Evans, O'Neill was forced to make changes for the biggest game of his life.

With Aaron Hughes not risked due to injury, Paddy McNair came in for McLaughlin at right back while Craig Cathcart took over from Evans in central defence alongside Gareth McAuley with Chris Brunt at left back.

McNair had been earmarked for Baird's holding midfield role, which was filled by Corry Evans with captain Steven Davis and Oliver Norwood beside him in midfield.

Josh Magennis replaced Lafferty with Stuart Dallas and Jamie Ward, who missed the last two games, either side of the Kilmarnock striker.

In goal was Michael McGovern, with O'Neill deciding to stick with the Enniskillen man despite an error in the 1-1 at home to Hungary last month.

It proved to be a good decision with McGovern excellent throughout starting with a sharp save on 15 minutes to deny Alexander Tziolis after a Greek corner led to panic in the home defence. Prior to that the classy Norwood had fired wide in a bright opening and after McGovern's crucial save the lively Ward flashed a header wide as Northern Ireland tried to exert some pressure in the opening quarter.

A first chance for Magennis arrived on 25 minutes, after fine work from Dallas, but the Bangor man's goalbound was shot superbly blocked by Vangelis Moras.

So close... the goal the home fans craved was not far away and what a brilliant goal it was. Corry Evans slipped a fantastic pass to the outstanding Dallas, who crossed perfectly for Davis to slide the ball into the net on 25 minutes from close range to send Windsor wild.

What a moment for the captain, such an inspirational figure on and off the pitch for this Northern Ireland side.

He scored his first goal in a couple of years for Southampton at the weekend against Chelsea and here he was netting for his country for the first time since 2013.

Talk about raising the roof...

If there was complete and utter joy then, relief poured out of every Northern Ireland fan just before the break when Brunt produced a telling block inside the box before Kostas Mitroglou hit the post with the rebound.

Fortune had favoured O'Neill's braves.

Four minutes into the second half Windsor erupted once again when that man Magennis, so popular with his team-mates, scored his first international goal.

Emotional scenes followed, when a looping header from Magennis (pictured) dropped into the net after Norwood's corner, with the big number 21 racing to the touchline to celebrate with O'Neill. The rest of the Northern Ireland team chased after him. Usain Bolt wouldn't have caught him!

Game over.

There was no way back for bottom of the table Greece.

The only question to answer was how much better could this night get?

Much. Davis delivered once more with an intelligent header on 58 minutes when a corner was cleared to him.

Touch of class from the skipper. Touch of class.

From the moment he first came on the scene with Northern Ireland, he looked a high quality performer.

How fitting to see him score twice on the night Northern Ireland returned to the big time.

Greece may have scored through Christos Aravidis in the 85th minute but nobody really noticed.

The packed 11,700 crowd were too busy celebrating and thinking about next year in France!

That's where Northern Ireland are headed.

When the referee blew the final whistle the cheer was long and loud and the post match celebrations on the pitch and in the stands were a joy to behold.

Get ready France... we are on our way.

NORTHERN IRELAND: McGovern, McNair (McCullough 85), McAuley, Cathcart, Brunt, Corry Evans, Ward McGinn 81), Norwood, Davis, Dallas, Magennis (Boyce 78).

Goals: Davis 35, Magennis 49,Davis 59.

GREECE: Karnezis, Torosidis, Moras, Papastathopoulos, Holebas, Tziolis, Samaris, Karelis (Mantalos 65), Kone (Pelkas 71), Aravidis, Mitroglou (Athanasiadis 76).

Goals: Aravidis 86.

Man of match: Steven Davis

Attendance: 11,700

Referee: Bas Nijhuis (Holland).

Belfast Telegraph

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