Belfast Telegraph

Alan Blayney rises again like a Phoenix

Alan Blayney isn’t going to lose any sleep over the nightmare moment that handed Morocco the lead against Northern Ireland.

Alan Blayney isn’t going to lose any sleep over the nightmare moment that handed Morocco the lead against Northern Ireland.

There’s enough to keep the new dad awake at night over the next few weeks — if not months.

To describe Wednesday as eventful for Blayney would be a huge understatement. One thing’s for sure though, it was a day he’ll never forget, even if it was followed by a night that he’d love to.

The 29-year-old Linfield goalkeeper became a father when his partner Laura gave birth to their first child — a boy who the couple have named Phoenix — around lunchtime and after a few hours doting on his new arrival Blayney headed off to rejoin Nigel Worthington’s squad.

From the high of having a new son, Blayney came back down to earth with a bump after he replaced Jonny Tuffey at half-time as 10 minutes later his attempted clearance hit Morocco’s Marouane Chamakh and rebounded into the net.

“Apart from the game on Wednesday night it’s been a really good week — albeit a tiring one,” said Blayney, who will be in action again this afternoon when Linfield host Dungannon Swifts at Windsor Park.

“It’s been eventful and it’s brilliant to have the birth of my first child.

“The match didn’t go too well for me, but it’s the kind of thing that you take on the chin and get on with things and don’t let it get you down.”

Why should he? Blayney has been in the Northern Ireland squad for the last half a dozen games and that’s down to him being in top form for the Blues. Although the Linfield defence has conceded eight times in the last four games, prior to that Blayney had only been beaten seven times in 17 domestic outings this season.

“I’ve had a decent season so far. We’re five points clear at the top of the league, I’ve had something like 11 clean sheets and I’m happy with my form, so I’m not going to let one mistake overshadow all that,” said Blayney, whose stop from an Alan Shearer header on his Southampton debut in May 2004 won him the Premier League’s Save of the Season award.

“I’m old enough and wise enough to know that I’ve made mistakes before and I’m sure I will again, but I won’t let it affect me,” he added.

“I’d a shocker of a debut for Linfield, but we went on to win the double last season, so it all worked out in the end and I’ll respond from this as well.

It was only at the start of the week that Blayney knew there was going to be a clash of dates on Wednesday, after the planned birth was brought forward at the last minute.

“The baby was born by planned C-section and that was supposed to happen on Thursday,” explained 29-year-old Blayney.

“Laura got a call on Monday to say that something was happening in the hospital on Thursday and that it would have to be brought forward to Wednesday.

“I spoke to Nigel Worthington and he was great about it. I told him that I still wanted to be in

volved and that if everything went smoothly I’d be back with the squad in time for the game.

“I never wanted to withdraw from the squad — although I was a bit 50-50 about it. I spoke to Laura and she told me to go-ahead. A lot of people have told me I’m lucky she was so understanding.

“When you get called up to play for your country it’s a real honour. I love playing for Northern Ireland and I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity of another cap.

“I had no problem focusing on the game. The goal had nothing to do with not being focused. I haven’t seen in on television. I had it recorded for me, but I deleted it straight away.”

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