Many supporters here roar Three Lions to victory against Denmark
Northern Ireland football fans went through the whole range of emotions watching Wednesday night’s crunch Euro 2020 match as England secured a place in Sunday’s final with Italy after a tense 2-1 semi-final showdown against Denmark.
Fans of Gareth Southgate’s side have been dreaming of adding a Euros title to their 1966 World Cup success.
England were installed as clear favourites among bookmakers to beat Denmark, having progressed through the tournament without conceding a goal.
The 60,000 fans inside Wembley stadium included Football Association president the Duke of Cambridge and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with an estimated 20 million watching the match in homes across England.
The two teams could not be separated in normal time, after a thunderbolt free-kick from Denmark's Mikkel Damsgaard and an own-goal from Danish defender Simon Kjaer 10 minutes later sent the teams in level at 1-1.
But it was England who emerged victorious and into their first European final thanks to Harry Kane's extra-time penalty, scored after his spot-kick had been saved by Kasper Schmeichel.
Former Ulster Rugby legend Stephen Ferris branded the penalty decision “shocking”, while ex-Northern Ireland winger Keith Gillespie tweeted: “Game has gone. What’s the point in VAR. Never a penalty!!!”.
BBC broadcaster Stephen Nolan added: “If England had a penalty given against them like that, we would never have heard the end of it.”
Earlier this week the presenter vowed to wear a full England kit when he presented his radio show on Monday morning — but later admitted he had struggled to find one to fit him.
He has also ignited a fierce debate on Twitter during England’s successful Euro 2020 campaign, repeatedly asking his followers to “get behind” the team.
Ahead of Wednesday night’s match he urged NI fans to send him photos of them watching the game and supporting the England side.
"Hopefully some of you will be wearing your England kits!” he added.
Among those congratulating England was First Minister Paul Givan, who tweeted: “England showed strength of character and courage to come back from a goal down. Denmark worthy opponents making it a fantastic game of football. Great result.”
Justice Minister Naomi Long added: “Congratulations to #England. Brilliant match and well deserved win. Now… switch over quick before the commentators ruin it.”
BBC weather presenter Barra Best wrote: “The high pressure in the forecast for Wembley on Sunday is looking like it’ll be the highest on record for England in 55 years.”
Causeway Coast and Glens Ulster Unionist councillor Darryl Wilson has been a fan of the England football team and a “fanatic” about the sport for many years.
“If you look past the hype about them in the media in England in particular, that can really put the cart before the horse,” the Ballymoney man said.
"In years gone by there’s always been an expectation they would do reasonably well because they were always quite a good side but they were never really at that real world-class level.
“As the years have passed, they have more humility about them.
"Their manager is quite an affable fella.
"And a lot of the players are quite humble and make the headlines for the right reasons — campaigning against child poverty and racism.”
Belfast Green Party councillor Brian Smyth said while it’s “easy to bash the English”, people are torn because of their support for their Premiership teams. The Cliftonville and Republic of Ireland supporter added: “There’s commonality between us living in these islands.
"It’s almost easier at times to be dismissive of England.
"I can’t knock this current England team. It’s probably the first time I’ve enjoyed them since that summer in 1990 when they again had a really decent human being as a manager in Bobby Robson.”