Belfast Telegraph

Ex-Red Boyce is at home on Windsor stage

By Graham Luney

Who would have thought it? Former Cliftonville favourite Liam Boyce is the new darling of the Kop Stand.

Never mind the fact that the man who turns 20 a week tomorrow never touched the ball against Slovenia — he’s made his first Northern Ireland appearance at Windsor Park and the Green and White Army cheered his arrival.

The Werder Bremen new recruit replaced Corry Evans in the 90th minute of the goal-less draw and rarely has a former Reds dangerman been greeted with so much enthusiasm at the home of Linfield.

Northern Ireland has lost its fair share of players to the Republic of Ireland in recent years but Boyce is staying put.

After coming through the Under-19 and Under-21 set-up he’s where he wants to be and after featuring against Scotland in the Carling Nations Cup and now Slovenia in a Euro 2012 qualifier, he’s on cloud nine.

“It was great to come on at Windsor Park in such an important game and important competition,” said Boyce.

“Hopefully it’s the start of something special for me and I can win more caps.

“My family, my girlfriend’s family, my agent and my friends were here to watch me and it’s great for them to see me get on even if I didn’t get a touch!

“It’s always great to come back home and to a ground where I have scored goals before. There was a nice cheer when I came on and it was good to hear that.”

Boyce may be a fresh face in the Northern Ireland squad but he’s already detected that famous fighting spirit that’s always been needed against international giants.

“As long as we stick together and work hard we can beat anyone. We certainly have the spirit to do that,” he added.

“We are still upbeat because we have played everyone once and only been beaten once.

“We are at home in our next two matches (against the Faroe Islands and Serbia) and it would be nice to get six points from those games and go on and qualify instead of being nearly men.”

A precocious talent, Northern Ireland fans would love to see the teenager fulfil his promise on the international stage.

“I would like to keep improving at club level and if I can do that then there is a chance I can stay in the Northern Ireland squad,” he added.

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