Belfast Telegraph

Windsor Park hails return of favourite son as David Healy takes Linfield job

By Lesley Houston

Lifelong Linfield fan David Healy's confirmation as the new manager was music to the ears of the club's legion of ardent supporters last night.

Ecstatic Blues fans cheered him to the rafters of Windsor Park as the former Northern Ireland record scorer was paraded before them.

The 36-year-old's ascendancy to the post followed Warren Feeney's premature departure to take up a new job with Newport County to be nearer his wife and young family.

It is Healy's first managerial appointment since ending his playing career in 2013 - eight years after his unforgettable winning goal against England.

It's been suggested the choice of Healy was made partly in a bid to placate fans disgruntled by Feeney's hasty exit.

Healy, who scored a record 36 goals in 95 Northern Ireland appearances, has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract.

The new manager described accepting the Blues job as a "no-brainer".

"It's an honour and privilege for me to be manager of this football club," Healy told the Linfield website.

"When Linfield approached me, there was only going to be one answer and that was yes.

"To me Windsor Park was my Wembley and to come back here as manager... I just can't wait to get started.

"I'm grateful to the club for showing a lot of faith in me. I'll be working 24 hours a day."

The club took time, before Linfield's league cup kick-off with Ballinamallard, to remember fan David Crozier (85) who died during Saturday's clash with Glentoran.

A minute's silence was observed and his grieving family spoke to thank club and supporters for their outpouring of sympathy since the death of the "true gentleman" and lifelong supporter.

Healy was introduced to fans before the floodlit match on the ground which saw some of his greatest international triumphs.

The Belfast striker joined Manchester United in 1995 before securing his first professional deal in 1999. He made his international debut for Northern Ireland a year later, becoming a household name after a hat-trick against Spain in the 2008 Euro qualifying in a campaign in which he scored 13 goals.

That record was only equalled at the weekend by Poland's Robert Lewandowski.

Healy also played a pivotal role in Northern Ireland's famous victory over England, now the stuff of legend for the Green and White Army. He also played for Preston, Norwich and Leeds, Fulham and Sunderland, before ending his playing career at Bury.

Overseeing his new team last night, though not yet in charge, the striker watched Linfield fall to a late goal by Jonny Lafferty, securing the Fermanagh club a shock 1-0 win.

Linfield were top of the Irish Premiership when Feeney stepped down last week.

However, Saturday's 1-1 draw against Glentoran saw the Blues lose the top spot to Crusaders.

Belfast Telegraph


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