Belfast Telegraph

Braveheart Feeney keeps the faith in bid to make Euro 2012 finals

By Graham Luney

Warren Feeney, who did his best Terry Butcher impersonation with a bandaged head at Windsor Park on Tuesday night, said Northern Ireland weren’t prepared to be pushed around by Slovenia.

The Oldham striker needed four stitches in a head wound at half-time on the way to what could be a precious point earned by Nigel Worthington’s side in a tense 0-0 stalemate.

England braveheart Butcher may have been covered in blood at the end of the World Cup qualifier against Sweden in 1989 but Feeney was also willing to put his head where it hurts for his country.

The 30-year-old will have his own hangover from the game to contend with but the striker who won his 40th cap wasn’t scratching his head after the battle, cursing two points dropped.

There was no repeat of his headed heroics when Slovenia lost 1-0 at Windsor in a World Cup qualifier two years ago but he feels Northern Ireland have proved they are no mugs on the international stage.

The former Ashfield Boys’ High School pupil was impressed with the way his side adapted to a tough challenge without key men such as Aaron Hughes, Steven Davis and Kyle Lafferty.

“We always knew both Serbia and Slovenia were going to be incredibly tough games to play but I think we showed that we’ve learned lessons from Friday night,” said the east Belfast man.

“It’s also pretty encouraging when you see that both those sides switched their systems to try and contain us.

“It worked on Friday but Slovenia came here with a game plan and we pulled it apart.

“They had a good midfield and I think we should have taken our chances better but then that’s why it was a draw. From the boys, it was a solid performance on the whole.

“Yes, I got four stitches at half time and my head is still pretty sore now but I was happy to play for as long as I did.

“I couldn’t help but hear the crowd going crazy and singing my name, it was fantastic!”

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