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Ali McCann shocked to find himself listed beside Messi and Ronaldo as one of the world’s best while at St Johnstone

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Ali McCann. Credit: William Cherry/Presseye

Ali McCann. Credit: William Cherry/Presseye

William Cherry/Presseye

Ali McCann. Credit: William Cherry/Presseye

Ali McCann is curious to discover how he took his place alongside the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Lewandowski and Haaland without him knowing anything about it.

Influential football magazine World Soccer compiled its annual list of the most important footballers on the planet last autumn and the Northern Ireland international was included among the greats. The 22-year-old Edinburgh man featured on a list of those making the most significant impact on the sport.

Now with Preston North End, the magazine highlighted his role in St Johnstone’s unprecedented cup double.

As he adapts to a new challenge in England, McCann is hungry to kick on and achieve more recognition and praise.

“It’s the first I’ve heard of that,” he said when asked about the World Soccer list.

“It’s quite nice, I didn’t know about that. I’ll need to have a wee search and have a look. Any sort of credit is flattering for me, so I’m happy with that.

“It’s a different world here from Scotland. I’ve played quite a lot of games, although obviously the last month or two I’ve not been playing as much. But we’ve been picking up good results at Preston, so it’s a good environment to be in, and when I have got in I’ve just enjoyed it as much as I can. I’m just cracking on as usual, working hard, and then whenever I have played I’ve been ready.”

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McCann has returned to the Northern Ireland squad in preparation for friendlies away to Luxembourg tomorrow and at home to Hungary on Tuesday.

“We know well it’s going to be a tough game, considering the results they’ve picked up over the past campaign,” he said.

“So it’s not maybe what it would have been years ago, it’ll definitely be a tough game, so we won’t be taking anything lightly anyway.”

Another major tournament slipped through Northern Ireland’s grasp last year but the World Cup campaign ended on a positive note following a 1-0 win over Lithuania and a scoreless draw against European champions Italy.

“It was a great night for us and to come away with a 0-0 draw against the Europan champions, it was a massive performance and we could have nicked it at the end,” added McCann.

“Any game in front of a full house at Windsor is brilliant and it was a great atmosphere on the night.

“We put in a great performance and if we had managed to nick it, it would have gone done as one of the best results in recent times.

“A draw at home with Italy gives us loads of confidence, even though it was a while ago.”


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