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Magennis seeks another 'life-changing' moment as Northern Ireland head to Bosnia for Euro play-off

 

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Leg up: Josh Magennis is back from suspension and ready to deliver

Leg up: Josh Magennis is back from suspension and ready to deliver

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

Leg up: Josh Magennis is back from suspension and ready to deliver

Northern Ireland's big game hunter Josh Magennis has told younger members of the squad that reaching the finals of a major tournament can be a life changing experience.

Speaking ahead of Thursday's Euro 2020 play-off semi-final away to Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Hull City striker recalled how monumental it was to play in the Euro 2016 finals and the boost it gave the country.

Magennis himself played a crucial role in helping the team get there, scoring in the epic 3-1 victory over Greece to confirm qualification and in France he did superbly in the build up to Niall McGinn's goal in the 2-0 victory over Ukraine in the group stages after Gareth McAuley had broken the deadlock on the day the players became 'Kings of Lyon'.

He wants to savour those magic moments again in next year's finals and hopes those in the squad who were not around in 2016 have the chance to sample that major tournament feeling.

"It's not a dynamic where you have lads saying 'we've done it, you haven't'. It's more motivational," stated Magennis, one of the biggest characters in the set-up.

"I still remember the final whistle against Greece (in 2015) and realising we had got to Euro 2016, so it's more to say 'lads, it changes your life'. Before we were a competitive Northern Ireland side, but now people will remember that team as Kings of Lyon.

"Gareth McAuley, Niall McGinn - these players will never be forgotten and will go down in history, as will the team that went to France. It's motivation in the sense if you can replicate those standards and that intensity, it has been proven we can get there.

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"It was a fantastic experience and one hopefully we can experience again. Hopefully Thursday after the game we'll be able to say 'OK, we've dealt with Bosnia, it's on to next month'.

"And if we do it next month and we're sitting in the Culloden Hotel after the game, the emotions you experience will never be able to be taken away from you. It galvanises you as a team and no matter where we end up in life, we'll always have that in common and it's a strong connection we'll always have."

Magennis, who has a habit of coming up trumps in high pressure internationals, added: "To be able to go to a major tournament twice or multiple times is something you literally dreamed of as a child. For us as players and staff, it would be huge, but also what it managed to do for the country when we were in France, it absolutely galvanised the country.

"The fan zones were full of the GAWA and it was crazy the support we got. It's a massive experience and one that us, as senior lads - I have to call myself that because I'm 30 - want to do because it would solidify that journey we've been on the last eight years or so.

"Hopefully on Thursday, not only me but the 14 players who will be involved, we all manage to have the game of our lives and leave Sarajevo with a massive result."

Magennis was sent off in the first match of the Nations League for two yellow cards against Romania and was suspended for the following game against Norway.

However, the Bangor lad will be free to play his part in what could be another memorable Northern Ireland evening.


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