David Jeffrey: The pressure at Windsor Park was nothing compared to what Carl Frampton dealt with in El Paso - give him a break
As manager of the biggest club in Ireland for 17 and a half years, I felt shouldered with a great deal of expectation.
There was a constant pressure on me to deliver trophies and produce teams worthy of the Linfield name.
Yet having watched Carl Frampton in El Paso last Saturday night in his world title fight, I really feel any pressure I felt during my time at Windsor Park pales into insignificance compared to what he had to endure in Texas.
How he responded from those two first round flash knockdowns was a true testament to the warrior that he is and how he is a worthy world champion.
In that boxing ring there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. It was either cave in or come out fighting.
He would have been shellshocked, his confidence shattered and his fight plan in pieces.
For Carl wasn’t just expected to win but win with style against Alejandro Gonzalez Jnr and with a fifth or sixth round knockout. This is what he and his manager Barry McGuigan had promised the watching American public.
The pressure on him must have been immense.
I’m no boxing expert, just a genuine fan of the sport, and I was mightily impressed with his mental fortitude, his grit and determination.
I’m not saying this because he is a fellow Sunday Life columnist, I simply saw a different side of Carl Frampton in El Paso and his performance only fuelled my sincere admiration for the young man.
The transparency and honesty he showed in the aftermath of the fight was refreshing and genuine, revealing exactly what went wrong.
He didn’t try and sugarcoat the performance, he gave factual and accurate reasons as to why he underperformed and said it wasn’t good enough.
To me, he produced an heroic display, demonstrating all the qualities of a champion. I was extremely proud of him. I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone from Northern Ireland would feel the need to openly criticise Carl and that includes former boxer Wayne McCullough.
He may have been there and done it himself but, in my opinion, slating Carl smacked of bitterness and jealousy. While his workrate was commendable, I can’t remember him being an overly explosive fighter — more durable when he reached world level.
Carl is a proud Northern Ireland man while it frustrates me Wayne lost his accent some time ago.
We need to be supporting our own. Sure, no-one is beyond criticism — yet it should be constructive.
Carl didn’t hide away from the fact it wasn’t the performance he wanted — in my view he is a man of integrity, honesty and is completely modest.
The viewing figures — five million tuned in to watch him — tell you he is an exciting, enthralling and entertaining fighter in the public’s eyes.
And boy can he deal with pressure...