Northern Ireland poster girl ‘back’ for Austria game after slipped disc trauma
Proud member of the Green and White Army Judith White was quite literally a picture the last time Northern Ireland played a competitive football match away from home.
Judith's dad Brian, a former Irish League goalkeeper, brought a life-sized pop-up card of his daughter to the Switzerland game in Basel after she couldn't make it.
The Carrickfergus woman was ruled out of travelling to the World Cup play-off last November due to an injury picked up while preparing to watch Northern Ireland in their final qualifying match in Norway a month before.
Instead, a print-out version of Judith was propped up on a seat on the plane, went on a pub crawl around the beautiful Swiss city, and joined in the commiserations as Northern Ireland were knocked out of the World Cup.
Now 12 months on from suffering a debilitating injury in an Oslo hotel room, Judith yesterday flew into Vienna with her dad to cheer on Northern Ireland at tomorrow night's Nations League clash against Austria at the Ernst Happel Stadium.
"It was the first night in Oslo and I woke up and didn't have any feeling in my right leg," said the 38-year-old yesterday.
"My dad thought I'd just slept on it but I suffer from sciatic nerve in my back and the pain soon became horrendous.
"The ambulance was called, I was on morphine, the Norwegian doctors told me it was better I go home for treatment.
"That was an awful journey from Oslo to Dublin and then up to Belfast.
"I was in constant pain."
After being assessed by doctors at the Mater Hospital in Belfast and then by her own GP, Judith's condition was diagnosed as a prolapsed disc.
She needed two operations, months of morphine, 25 weeks off work and a regime of yoga to finally eradicate the problem.
"It's brilliant to be back on a trip," she said.
Brian added: "It was awful watching your daughter in so much pain.
"But we didn't want her to really miss anything in Switzerland.
"As the Northern Ireland song goes: Everywhere we go...
"I'm delighted she's now back with us for this game."