Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

David Healy: Here's to another night to remember

So, here we go. Our last European Championship qualifier at Windsor Park in this campaign. We've beaten Spain, Latvia, Sweden and Liechtenstein in Belfast.

Do the same to Denmark on Saturday and we can go to Gran Canaria knowing our Euro 2008 hopes are still alive.

A draw or a defeat and our dream will be over.

Win or bust. It really is as simple as that.

This week in the Northern Ireland camp there has been a sense of anticipation about what lies ahead.

Everybody in the squad received such a huge lift after the 1-1 draw in Sweden last month.

When we met up for that game in Stockholm, there was a bit of doom and gloom around due to the defeats suffered in Latvia and Iceland. Not now.

Preparation has gone well and we are ready for what is a make or break clash.

We're up for it and I know our fans will feel the same way.

They have been brilliant for us throughout this campaign and have helped us get to where we are right now.

We're going to need them again against the Danes.

I'm glad that the match is on a Saturday night rather than during the afternoon because the atmosphere at Windsor Park for evening games is always better.

I'm sure the pubs in Belfast will be doing a roaring trade before kick-off.

And come match time I want Windsor to be at its most hostile and intimidating just to see how the Danes react.

We have to be positive right from the start although I'm not sure all out attack will be the way to go because Denmark are a very good side with top class players all over the park. You can't take them for granted.

Had we been playing against one of the lesser ranked sides like Liechtenstein, we perhaps could have gone all out for it, but against the Danes we need to play with our heads as well as hearts.

If we don't, someone like Jon Dahl Tomasson could take advantage.

He's a class player and has scored loads of goals at international level, so he must be watched carefully.

I'm sure Aaron Hughes and Stephen Craigan will be ready for the challenge.

Ahead of them I expect Steve Davis and Sammy Clingan to play major roles.

For me Davo and Sammy have been excellent for us in this campaign and they can set the tone from the middle of the park.

And then there is my old mate Keith Gillespie. He's provided and created so much for Northern Ireland and this is the sort of massive game that is set up for him.

If we can get the ball to Keith, I'm sure he can do some damage and conjure up some opportunities for myself, just as he has done down the years.

I'm told that I need one more goal to beat the scoring record in the Euro qualifiers.

It would be great to get it, but as long as someone scores a winning goal for us, I won't be bothered. Winning the game is all that matters.

To date I've played against Denmark three times in my international career and even scored against the great Peter Schmeichel once, but all those matches ended in draws.

Tomorrow we need three points, not one.

Yes, we can do it. But we need to be at our best.

And our wonderful supporters need to be at their best.

Can't wait for it. It could be another night to remember.



Anfield and my degree of pride

Everyone at Fulham left Liverpool last weekend feeling disappointed.

Up until the last 10 minutes, it looked as though we were going to take a vital point away from Anfield, but then Fernando Torres changed everything and they won 2-0.

When he was coming on, I was sitting on our bench after being substituted and I said to our physio that Torres was the last person that we wanted to see coming on.

Unfortunately that proved to be the case.

He is a high class player and produced an excellent finish to provide the breakthrough for them.

I'm glad he's not in the Spain squad for our match with them next week.

As for the whole Anfield experience, I enjoyed it all bar the result.

That was the first time I'd played there in front of a full house.

And I have to say, even though I have never been a Liverpool fan, when their supporters sung 'You'll Never Walk Alone' before the game the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up.

Something else happened this week which was pretty special.

I was very proud to receive an Award of Distinction from Belfast's new Metropolitan College.

It was a big surprise to me when I was told about it - and a massive honour.

I'd like to thank everyone at the College for being so kind to me on Wednesday when I collected the award.

And to whoever nominated me I'd like to say I really appreciate it.

I have to admit though that I felt a little bit embarrassed receiving the prize.

Hundreds of students worked their socks off for the last few years to get their degrees and there was me picking up an award for doing something that I genuinely love - playing football for Northern Ireland.

The students are the real stars and well done to all of them for all the work they have put in.

I'd like to wish them all the best in the future.



Great Scots can do it

Before we travel to Windsor Park for our big game on Saturday night, I'm hoping to relax by watching some of Scotland's crunch match with Italy at Hampden.

I'll be cheering the Scots on and would love to see them reach the Euro 2008 finals.

For all of the campaign they have been in contention and of course did the double over France which was an outstanding achievement.

Now they have to beat Italy to qualify. It's a massive ask. After all, Italy are the World Champions.

And I would say that they are the best team on the planet at defending and getting a 0-0 draw which is exactly what they need.

But with a passionate packed house at Hampden roaring Scotland on, you just never know.

I'm going to go for Alex McLeish and the boys to do it - just to edge it and make it to the Euro 2008 finals.

Can you imagine the fun our supporters would have with the Tartan Army, if we were to make it to Austria and Switzerland as well.

While I'm going for the Scots to do it, I have to say I don't think England are going to be there.

I have a hunch that Russia will beat Israel 1-0 and end England's hopes.

Already Steve McClaren is under severe pressure so imagine what it is going to be like if my prediction comes true.

If they don't make it to Euro 2008, serious questions have to be asked, not just about the England team, but about the whole football structure in England.

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