Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland v Latvia: Liam Boyce collected sticker albums, now he can be in one!

By Steven Beacom

As a football loving kid, Liam Boyce collected football sticker albums. Should he make the Northern Ireland squad for the Euro 2016 finals the former Cliftonville striker will savour being in one!

That's why he is so keen to continue his super form at club level for Scottish Premiership outfit Ross County and to make a major impression in upcoming international friendlies before Michael O'Neill selects his 23-man squad for France.

Boyce is expected to be given a chance to shine tomorrow night against Latvia at Windsor Park and is determined to take it, inching himself closer to an appearance in a major tournament and that Euro 2016 sticker album.

"I always collected sticker albums as a kid. World Cup, Premier League...everything," said the 24-year-old, still full of youthful exuberance and 'amazed' that he is now on the Fifa computer game.

"I remember the 2002 World Cup was the main one I was trying to do. I didn't complete the book, you never do.

"There's Match Attacks (a card trading game) in Scotland now. A fan gave me my card. Even to see your stats that is unbelievable.

"I don't think I'll be getting an album for the Euros but my wee nephew might be so hopefully I'll be in the squad.

"It's a big match on Friday and a good chance for people on the fringes to show what they can do and push for a place. It's an opportunity for everyone.

"Any time you get picked the manager is watching training so that is a chance to show what you can do, first and foremost. When friendlies come along you can take advantage. Like Greece last month when I came on you need to show what you can do. Hopefully I can get some minutes on Friday."

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The Greek game that Boyce refers to will forever be regarded as one of Northern Ireland's greatest sporting nights when the team qualified for the European Championships for the first time with a 3-1 victory in Belfast.

"It was brilliant to come on, especially as we were 3-0 up. There wasn't a lot of pressure and I thought I did alright," said Boyce.

"It was great to be part of the celebrations, everyone was loving it and the atmosphere was incredible. Coming from Cliftonville and having the opportunity to go the Euros is unbelievable really. I just need to keep playing well, scoring and putting myself in Michael's mind to leave him a decision to make."

Boyce has been scoring goals galore for Ross County this season, continuing where he left off last season. Now he wants his first international strike.

"That would be saw how big Josh (Magennis) reacted to his first goal against Greece," says Boyce, with a smile at the thought of it.

"Scoring in international football - to be able to say that would be something you'd never forget, something to take to the grave with you."

Boyce credits O'Neill with helping him earn his move last year from Cliftonville to Ross County after coming back to star for the Reds when a spell with German side Werder Bremen didn't work out.

He said: "Michael sat me down and said I had to really focus off the field and get everything right to give myself the best opportunity. I've done that and gone from strength to strength."

Belfast Telegraph