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Spain '82 heroics voted as Northern Ireland sport's greatest moment at Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards

By Stuart McKinley

No longer is it considered as only the most famous goal in Northern Ireland's footballing history.

Gerry Armstrong's iconic winner against Spain in the 1982 World Cup is now, officially, the country's greatest ever sporting moment.

Belfast Telegraph readers have voted Billy Bingham's men's victory over the Spanish in Valencia number one in a poll to decide Northern Ireland's finest hour in sport.

The strike that stunned the World Cup hosts 34 years ago has triumphed over many other wonderful moments, like Olympic gold medal glory and World championship successes.

The line screamed out by BBC commentator John Motson, 'Arconada … Armstrong!' as the Spain goalkeeper put the ball on a plate for the Northern Ireland striker, is still fondly remembered by fans who are old enough to have been watching on that amazing Friday night.

Armstrong couldn't have imagined at the time he lashed the ball into the back of the Spanish net just how much that goal would change his life.

Clubs in Spain took notice and he would join Real Mallorca a year later and he now lives on the island.

Armstrong was back in Belfast last night to take the plaudits once again at the 2015 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards.

He was joined on the stage by Pat Jennings, Jimmy Nicholl and Martin O'Neill, who all played their parts on the night - Jennings and Nicholl in a flawless defensive performance and O'Neill captaining the team to their greatest moment.

Dame Mary Peters, Jimmy Kirkwood and Stephen Martin may have won Olympic gold and Barry McGuigan and Dennis Taylor been on top of the world, but Gerry's goal-den moment just can't be eclipsed.

June 25 1982

Estadio Luis Casanova, Valencia

NORTHERN IRELAND: Pat Jennings, Jimmy Nicholl, John McClelland, Chris Nicholl, Mal Donaghy, David McCreery, Martin O'Neill, Sammy McIlroy (Tommy Cassidy, 50 mins), Gerry Armstrong, Billy Hamilton, Norman Whiteside (Sammy Nelson, 73 mins).

Goal: Armstrong 47 mins

Sent off: Donaghy 62 mins

SPAIN: Luis Arconada, Jose Camacho, Manuel Alonso, Miguel Tendillo, Rafael Gordillo, Jose Alexanko, Juanito, Enrique Saura, Jose Sanchez, Jesus Satrustegui (Quini, 46 mins), Lopez Ufarte (Ricardo Gallego, 78 mins).

Referee: Hector Ortiz (Paraguay).

Attendance: 49,562

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