Belfast Telegraph

Mission impossible: Northern Ireland can beat Germany or Holland to Euro 2020 spot, says Dallas

Stuart Dallas.
Stuart Dallas.

By Steven Beacom in the Sunday Life

Stuart Dallas believes beating Germany or Holland to set Northern Ireland on the road to qualification for the Euro 2020 finals would top everything he has achieved in his career to date.

The 28-year-old has become a huge favourite with the Green and White Army, thanks to his tireless and inspirational displays for the cause and is well on his way to becoming a Northern Ireland great.

When Michael O'Neill's team play the Germans and Dutch later this year, the wide man will be one of the manager's key figures and Dallas will relish the challenge of facing up to some of the best players on the planet in matches which will determine which two nations make it out of Group C and reach the next big major international tournament.

Northern Ireland top the table on 12 points, having secured victories home and away against Estonia and Belarus. Germany are in second spot with nine points from their three games, with the Dutch in third, having collected three points out of six to date. Belarus and Estonia have nothing to show for their efforts and have become the also rans halfway through qualifying.

Germany entertain Netherlands on September 6, one night after Northern Ireland host Luxembourg in a friendly. Then Joachim Low's men will travel to Belfast for a clash with O'Neill's side on September 9.

Northern Ireland are away to Holland on October 10 before finishing the campaign with a sensational double header at home to the Dutch on November 16 and in Germany three days later.

Over the past couple of years, it would be hard to find a more consistent performer for Northern Ireland than Dallas. Throw in the fact that the Cookstown man featured heavily in the Euro 2016 finals for his country and he has already achieved much at the highest level. There could be even better to come.

"We have had great success qualifying for a tournament, but one thing I've never really experienced is beating one of the so called giants of world football," says Leeds star Dallas.

"I have played against Germany, but haven't beaten them, and of course I've been involved in special Windsor Park nights like when we won against Greece to qualify for Euro 2016, but to be able to take on Germany or Holland and beat them in Belfast would top everything I think, especially if it put us in that position where we were on the verge of qualifying.

"I don't think we got the credit we deserved for qualifying from the group we did for the Euro 2016 finals because there were some tough teams in it, but if we could reach the Euro 2020 finals from this group with Germany and Holland, it would be mission impossible achieved because nobody gave us a chance at the start of it.

"What we have done by winning the first four games is give ourselves a chance, which is what we set out to do.

"Now we have the big teams coming up and hopefully we can get big results.

"The late wins we had in Estonia and Belarus at the end of last season speak volumes and show how far we have come as a team.

"All credit to the boys because after the last Euros, we could have said we've achieved something special and what happens next doesn't matter, but we have shown we are hungry for more.

"We've had that success and we want that feeling again. We are building momentum. The first four games have kept us on course for our target and effectively now we are playing knockout football with the big teams coming to Windsor Park.

"We play Luxembourg in a friendly at home in September and Germany play Holland the next night in a qualifier, so one of those two are going to drop points and they are going to be even further behind us, so the pressure will all be on them when we face them."

While Dallas and co know all about Germany's high-class individuals such as Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos and Leroy Sane, having faced them in recent years, going toe-to-toe with Holland and Liverpool hero, Virgil van Dijk, is something to savour, not fear, according to Dallas.

"It's players like that you want to play against.

"He has proven over the last few years and particularly last season that he is the best defender in the world. It will be nice to come up against him and the rest of the Holland team and Germany," says Dallas.

"We know the matches won't be easy, but we also know that on our day, especially at Windsor Park, we can give anyone a game.

"To play against big nations in big games for your country, it really doesn't get much better than that."

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