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Chris Brunt's five memorable moments with Northern Ireland

 

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As one: Josh Magennis, Oliver Norwood and Conor Washington rush to congratulate
Chris Brunt after his free-kick against the Czech Republic

As one: Josh Magennis, Oliver Norwood and Conor Washington rush to congratulate Chris Brunt after his free-kick against the Czech Republic

As one: Josh Magennis, Oliver Norwood and Conor Washington rush to congratulate Chris Brunt after his free-kick against the Czech Republic

Chris Brunt has made his final appearance for Northern Ireland. As he announces his international retirement, here's a look back at five of his most memorable moments.

Chris Brunt's five memorable moments with Northern Ireland

1. A dogged display sees him lapping it up at Windsor

Chris Brunt’s first Northern Ireland appearance at Windsor Park came in bizarre circumstances. After making his debut as a late substitute in Switzerland in a 0-0 draw in August 2004, his next cap didn’t arrive for another 10 months and only because he happened to be walking his dog near the team’s training ground. Then manager Lawrie Sanchez invited Brunt to join up and a few days later he was facing mighty Germany in Belfast.

"I did not realise he comes home to Belfast for the summer and lives just down the road from the training ground. He will come and join us on Friday," said Sanchez. "We are well covered in midfield and attacking areas so I would not normally have been bringing him in. But he is one for the future and might as well take the opportunity to train with the senior squad."

2. Seeing red when rampant Ronaldo came to town

Most will remember it as the night that Cristiano Ronaldo came to Belfast and scored a stunning hat-trick, inspiring Portugal to a 4-2 victory over Northern Ireland. For Chris Brunt though that September evening in 2013 was when he saw red. With the home side leading 2-1, Brunt was sent off for two bookable offences just after the hour. Then Ronaldo took over. Kyle Lafferty was also dismissed later on for Northern Ireland.

3. After the high of qualifying, the pain of missing finals

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After several frustrating years, Brunt hit top form for Northern Ireland with Michael O’Neill in charge. During the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, he excelled and was relishing the prospect of playing in the finals. A couple of months before the football trip of a lifetime he suffered a serious knee injury playing for WBA and was ruled out of the tournament. Brunt supported his team-mates in France, but it was a crushing blow for him not to be involved on the pitch.

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Frustration: Chris Brunt on the sidelines at the Euros in 2016

Frustration: Chris Brunt on the sidelines at the Euros in 2016

Frustration: Chris Brunt on the sidelines at the Euros in 2016

 

4. He Czechs out of scoring with a wonder free-kick

As Chris Brunt’s international career progressed, he became a set-piece king for Northern Ireland. With his wand of a left foot he created magic — and opportunities — from corners and free-kicks. He was also capable  of scoring from the latter as he proved in September last year with a brilliant curling effort at Windsor in a 2-0 win over the Czech Republic. It was his third and final international goal — eight years after his first, a free-kick versus San Marino.

 

5. Swiss miss was hard to take as World dream ends

Maybe it was fate that Chris Brunt began his time as an international with a 0-0 draw in Switzerland and ended it the same way. Mind you, the first was a friendly and the last was with a World Cup finals place at stake. Having missed out on Euro 2016, Brunt was determined to make it to Russia and was superb in the campaign and against the Swiss in the play-off second leg. Unfortunately though it wasn’t enough to qualify.

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Agonising miss: Chris Brunt lets it all out after the play-off defeat to Switzerland

Agonising miss: Chris Brunt lets it all out after the play-off defeat to Switzerland

AFP/Getty Images

Agonising miss: Chris Brunt lets it all out after the play-off defeat to Switzerland

 


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