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Double-goal hero Davis dedicates win to mum who died from cancer

An emotional Steven Davis dedicated the two goals which helped take Northern Ireland to Euro 2016 to his late mother.

The captain scored twice in a man-of-the-match performance against Greece.

And afterwards he took time out of the celebrations to remember his mother, Laura, who passed away seven years ago after a battle with cancer.

Davis said: "Whenever I scored the goal, it meant a lot to me because obviously my mum passed away in 2008.

"She was my biggest fan - she loved coming to Windsor to see me and those two goals were for her."

Davis scored twice, in the 35th and 58th minute, to send Northern Ireland to our first major tournament in nearly 30 years.

Afterwards, the midfielder said leading his country to France was the proudest moment of his career.

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"I think football-wise it's got to be right up there - definitely," he added. "It's a huge night. You only have to look at how long it's been since we qualified for a major tournament as a country and how difficult it is to do that.

"To achieve that tonight is hard to sum up and put into words, but we'll just enjoy tonight and look forward to France."

Last night's victory sparked scenes of celebration, the like of which have not been seen across Northern Ireland in a generation.

Asked what it meant to the country, Davis replied: "Even outside of football fans I think it's huge for the whole country. Hopefully it will unite everybody."

Meanwhile, team manager Michael O'Neill was lifted aloft by players after the final whistle confirmed their victory.

Afterwards, he said his side was not content with just qualifying for the tournament.

"We will go there and obviously try and make an impact," O'Neill added.

"I genuinely believe, the availability being what it can be and the strength of the squad, that we can go there with a real optimism."

O'Neill also told how qualification was a tangible reward for the work put in over recent years.

"I've enjoyed this job, even when the results were difficult," he said.

"I've had a real chance to try and make an impact and improve football here in Northern Ireland, and a lot of the work we've done I think has genuinely done that.

"But you need something on the top of it, and certainly qualification will do that.

Defender Gareth McAuley said it was a night which he would always remember.

"It's been a long, long journey for me in my career," he added.

"A chance to play in something as special as a European Championship is going to be the icing on the cake.

"To finally get the chance for something like this… it is special."

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