Belfast Telegraph

Fans blown away by their Euro stars

By Ian Cahoon

Northern Ireland's low key friendly win over Latvia last night gave the fans an opportunity to welcome home their heroes.

It was the first game at Windsor since qualification was guaranteed with victory over Greece last month.

The feel-good factor is in full flow in the increasingly impressive stands at the national stadium, with last night's crowd at just under 12,000.

Fans were happy with what they saw as preparations for Euro 2016 got underway.

"Latvia weren't the strongest opposition that we could face but at least it allowed us to add to the winning run," George Bell said.

"In the end it wasn't the most exciting game but nice to be able to enjoy a match like that knowing we've already qualified.

"I thought it was also good that Michael (O'Neill) took the chance to try a few things out, like the change of formation.

"Winning breeds confidence too, so it was a good way to sign off what has been a great year for the country."

Once again Steven Davis proved his worth, popping up with the winning goal. His influence on the side has not gone unnoticed among the Green and White Army.

Paul Semple said: "Davis really is the talisman of this team, isn't he?

"You wouldn't like to think about losing him for the Euros, so hopefully Southampton wrap him in cotton wool for us!

"His importance to the team seems to grow in every match, and he's popped up with the important goal.

"All of our play seems to go through him. In my opinion he is our most important player."

Progress on the development of the national stadium is apparent at every home international these days, with fans enjoying their new surroundings.

"The ground is taking shape nicely, it gets better every time we come here," Stephen Walker commented.

"It's now a modern football stadium and I'd love to see us getting a big team to come here before we sign off for the Euros.

"It's a home we can be proud of now, everything is coming together nicely."

With few talking points around the match itself fans were abuzz with the thought of planning in France next summer.

Many already have plans in place for their trip across the Channel.

"I think everyone is just hoping to get a ticket at this stage," Billy Patterson said.

"I know a lot who have booked for Paris but at the end of the day it doesn't really matter where the games are - we'll be there.

"There are guys who have hired camper vans, some are going to drive the whole way and others will go to matches for the day."

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph