Belfast Telegraph

We want to be remembered as legends: Roy Carroll

By Steven Beacom

Roy Carroll hopes that in the future Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 stars are revered as much as legends of the past like his hero Pat Jennings.

Big Pat, of course, played in the finals of the 1982 and 1986 World Cups.

The Notts County goalkeeper wants to play in a major tournament too but knows to enjoy a piece of the action in France next year, he faces a fight for the jersey with friend and fellow Fermanagh man Michael McGovern the current number one.

Carroll, who manager Michael O'Neill restored to the international squad after years of exile, was right behind McGovern in Thursday's thrilling 3-1 win at home to Greece which clinched qualification. He hopes that the modern day players are now up there with the greats of yesteryear.

"That's what we hope. We want fans to look back and say that in Euro 2016 we made the finals. Young players and experienced players like myself, we want to be walking down the street and people say 'there's Roy Carroll, he got the team into Euro 2016'. That's what you want when you retire," said the former Manchester United ace.

"That's why I keep looking at Pat Jennings and say what a legend he is, and what a keeper.

"I was only nine when we played in our last major tournament in 1986. I can't remember much of it bar big Pat.

"It is brilliant to qualify. I won't forget Thursday night in a hurry. I haven't got many years left in my career and I'll enjoy every minute of it.

"Qualifying for the Euro finals is one of the highest points of my career and hopefully I'll be getting on the plane next summer.

"I had difficult times before, everybody knows, so to play the first five games of this campaign has been fantastic.

"I had a slight injury in the summer that upset my stomach, and things changed for the Romania game in June. Michael came in and he has done fantastic.

"He's got the jersey and me and Alan (Mannus) are here to keep him on his toes. We'll keep pushing him and that's what you need as a team. We have that with Northern Ireland now, a lot of players fighting for positions. It's healthy for the country."

Carroll is 38 and has become a mainstay in O'Neill's squad but he refuses to take anything for granted.

"I take each day as it comes. Especially when you get older, you don't know which way your body will go," he says.

"I'm going to concentrate on playing for Notts County until the end of the season, and hopefully get back in the first XI because that's my goal.

"My hunger is to try and play in the finals if I get selected, because there's still a long way to go.

"The last time we went to a big tournament was 30 years ago so there were a lot of people before me who were hoping to go to big tournaments.

"Ryan Giggs wanted to go to big tournaments for Wales and he never achieved it. I've got a chance now and a lot of players here like Aaron Hughes, what a professional he is.

"It's a great honour for him to go there as well and everyone else in the squad."

Belfast Telegraph