It was a night when Pat McCourt stole the spotlight for Northern Ireland but it was also a night when Linfield were winners — athough they didn’t know it at the time.
While McCourt weaved his magic against the Faroe Islands at Windsor Park last August in a 4-0 win, sitting on the bench looking on was one Peter Thompson.
Thompson wasn’t aware of it then — and neither was his club — but his presence on the sidelines has now sent a cash prize winging its way to Windsor Park.
That’s because Linfield are among 575 clubs across Europe who have picked up a financial boost as part of Uefa’s share of the profits from Euro 2012.
Clubs are paid a fee for every one of their players who received a call-up for any of the Euro 2012 qualifiers or the finals tournament.
While the £3,345 paid out by the European governing body to the Blues is a drop in the ocean compared to the £2,469,476 collected by Bayern Munich, neither the Windsor Park club or any of the 574 others had to actually earn the money.
Linfield were awarded the cash because Thompson was part of the Northern Ireland squad for the game against the Faroes.
The Blues were entitled to the money even though Thompson didn’t take any part in the match.
So while McCourt was producing his irresistible performance and scoring two goals, Linfield also had reason to celebrate.
Thompson, who has eight Northern Ireland caps under his belt — including one goal in a 4-1 win over Georgia — was stunned to learn of the unexpected cash bonus.
“I know players get appearance money for matches and I suppose that can vary but it’s the first I’ve heard of this arrangement — it’s news to me,” said the former Stockport County frontman.
“To be honest, I find it a little odd that clubs are given money when the players don’t play but at the same time I guess it’s nice to see the money filter down from Uefa to clubs.
“Bayern Munich have a lot of international players so they certainly won’t be complaining. The Faroe Islands game is a fading memory for me and I don’t even remember much from that time.
“But I guess when players are away from their clubs there is always a risk of injury so things are different from that point of view. Clubs pay the players’ wages so that’s their livelihood.
“But I don’t think any of the money will be coming my way if Linfield do receive it,” joked Thompson.
Now aged 28, the Linfield goal-getter doesn’t expect another international call-up but he does hope the door springs back open for talented young players.
“I think we need to recreate a club atmosphere at international level where the players are physically and mentally ready to give their all although I know it’s not easy to achieve,” added Thompson.
“If we start looking to the future and young players are nurtured the right way the results and confidence will come back. Northern Ireland have never found it easy, particularly when they are expected to come out on top in games.”