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NI Homeless team earn respect at the World Cup in Glasgow

By Adam McKendry

Published 18/07/2016

Record: Justin McMinn's men finished 13th at the tournament
Record: Justin McMinn's men finished 13th at the tournament

Northern Ireland's Homeless World Cup stars may not have returned home with a trophy for their efforts, but their remarkable performances in Glasgow certainly endeared themselves to many in attendance.

Justin McMinn's side recorded their best ever finish at a World Cup, beating their 24th placed finish last year in Amsterdam, after they finished in 13th place at the tournament following a rollercoaster week in Scotland.

The tournament itself was a massive success overall with over 10,000 people attending throughout the week as Mexico retained their title after they triumphed in Saturday's World Cup final, defeating Brazil 6-1 in Glasgow.

However, for the Northern Ireland side it was just as successful as they made a major impact both on and off the pitch.

Captain Darren Spiers was a key member of the squad, leading from the front and netting over 30 goals in 13 games which helped the side to that best ever finish in the competition.

Johnny Sterrett also added 21 goals to back up his captain's efforts, while David Heagney was another to have an excellent tournament.

Coming into the World Cup with very few expectations, the Northern Irishmen picked up three wins in the first group stage over Holland, Switzerland and Italy to surprise many.

They found their second group stage more challenging as they came unstuck against Chile and Hungary as well as being held to a draw by cross-border rivals the Republic of Ireland, who then beat them on penalties and went on to win the Plate.

However, wins over India and Street Soccer United, a team made up of refugees living in Scotland, were enough to send Justin McMinn and his team into the Plate, guaranteeing them their highest ever finish.

Although they were unable to progress beyond the quarter-finals of the Plate, their excellent behaviour earned them a Respect medal - an award given to teams that display fair play on the pitch, but also make an impression off it as well.

Belfast Telegraph

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