Belfast Telegraph

David Healy's magic moments

David Healy has had many highlights in his career with Northern Ireland but here he picks his favourites that had the Green and White Army singing his name at home and across the globe

By William Cherry

1. That goal: Northern Ireland 1 England 0, Windsor Park, September 7, 2005

Months before we played England in Belfast, we played them at Old Trafford. We were drawing 0-0 there at half-time and in the dressing room there was a feeling that we could do something special.

They ended up beating us 4-0! Our fans kept singing away which was brilliant even though the English fans were taunting them, chanting 'Are you Scotland in disguise?' At Windsor it was also 0-0 at half-time and in the dressing room there was a real determination not to let the same thing happen again.

The team were outstanding as was the atmosphere and I was lucky enough to score the winner in what turned into the most magical night of my career. I would think most of the boys who played would say that.

To this day people still talk to me about 'that goal'. I guess it catapulted me to a status among Northern Ireland fans that I'd always hoped to achieve, but more important was the victory and how happy it made everyone in Northern Ireland feel.

2. Treble joy: Northern Ireland 3 Spain 2, Windsor Park, September 6, 2006

Looking back now beating that Spain side seems an even better result than it did seven years ago. So many of the Spanish players against us at Windsor Park went on to dominate world football winning European Championships and the World Cup.

We entered that match on the back of a 3-0 loss at home to Iceland. Lawrie Sanchez and the players had been slaughtered in the run up to the game by the media yet we showed real character against Spain because we went behind twice and came back not only to draw level, but to beat them 3-2.

I hit a hat-trick and the final goal in front of the Kop was incredible for me, lobbing Iker Casillas from long range. It was a brilliant feeling.

3. Euro star: Northern Ireland 2 Denmark 1, Windsor Park, November 17, 2007

The game against Denmark, when I broke the record for the number of goals scored in a European qualifying campaign (right), should never have taken place.

The conditions were atrocious with the rain pouring down on the pitch, but it was declared playable and we got down to business. I got our winner, chipping the ball over the goalkeeper into the net.

Some people asked me afterwards if I'd meant it, thinking it might be a cross. I definitely meant it. It was my 13th goal of the campaign, beating Davor Suker's record, and it won the game for us.

What pleased me most was it kept our hopes of qualification for the Euro 2008 finals alive. A lot of our fans had booked to go over to Spain for the final qualifier and even though we didn't make it in the end it was good that they travelled with a glimmer of hope.

4. My debut: Luxembourg 1 Northern Ireland 3, Josy Barthel Stadium, February 23, 2000

I had played for the schoolboy team, under 16s, under 19s and under 21s and I felt ready to go into the senior side and I'll always be grateful to Sammy McIlroy for giving me my chance in Luxembourg. I still remember Sammy (right) telling me a few days before that I was going to play and feeling so excited that I could hardly sleep ahead of the game. Thankfully it went well and we won and I scored a couple of goals. It was a great night.

5. Record breaker: Trinidad & Tobago 0 Northern Ireland 3, June 6, 2004

We were on a Caribbean tour (below) and in the final game I needed one goal to equal the Northern Ireland scoring record of 13 and two to break it. The first goal I scored that night was dubious because the referee blew for a free-kick and nobody really knew who it was for. I thought it was for us and with the ball on the ground I chipped the free-kick over their goalkeeper from 40 yards and in it went. The second goal came after my old Lisburn Youth striking partner Andy Smith flicked on a corner and I knocked it in at the back post. As I ran away celebrating like a madman, I'm not sure my team-mates knew the significance of the goal, but it meant the world to me passing the Northern Ireland record.

6. Final goal: Northern Ireland 1 Azerbaijan 1, Windsor Park, November 14, 2012

I hadn't scored for a few years for Northern Ireland and was desperate to hit the net one more time. I had spoken to the manager Michael O'Neill about my role in the team.

My aim was to help when called upon. For the Azerbaijan game I was only 30% fit and on the bench. I was only going to come on if really needed. We were losing 1-0 and with 20 minutes left Michael asked me if I could go on. I said maybe leave it another 10 because I didn't want to be going on and coming off shortly after. I came on with time running out and thankfully scored a free-kick in the 95th minute to equalise. After the game I felt as though I could die a happy man having scored another goal at the Kop end at Windsor Park.

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