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All-Ireland Euro decider would be played in right spirit: Jennings

 

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Northern Ireland legend Pat Jennings

Northern Ireland legend Pat Jennings

Northern Ireland legend Pat Jennings

Northern Ireland legend Pat Jennings believes any Euro 2020 play-off final between Ian Baraclough's side and the Republic of Ireland at Windsor Park in November would be played in the right atmosphere and spirit.

If Northern Ireland triumph over Bosnia and Herzegovina in Zenica and the Republic win in Slovakia during October, the two Irish sides will clash at Windsor Park on November 12 with a place in the finals on the line.

With both sides on the brink of qualifying for a major tournament, it would arguably be an even bigger fixture than the infamous World Cup qualifier at Windsor on November 17, 1993 when the Republic were one point away from making it to USA '94.

It was mission accomplished after a 1-1 draw but the match was played in a politically-charged atmosphere at a time of high sectarian tension and horrific atrocities.

Today's Northern Ireland is in a very different place and supporters have played a huge role in driving out sectarianism from the stands. Jennings, a loyal supporter of peace building charity Co-operation Ireland, never misses an opportunity to hammer home a cross-community message while respecting football's rivalries.

"The Windsor Park game in November would be a great game but things have got a lot better politically and we want to watch a football match while leaving politics to one side," said the former Tottenham and Arsenal keeper (left).

"The country has obviously moved on a lot and a lot of respect would be shown, even though it would be a high-stakes game and an interesting one to watch. I played against the Republic a number of times and I don't think they scored against us whenever I played.

"Unfortunately both Irish sides can't progress.

"The added worry is the lack of fans due to the pandemic. Hopefully we can get limited crowds in and build up from there."

Belfast Telegraph