Belfast Telegraph

Windsor nights will never be forgotten: Hughes

By Ian Cahoon

Northern Ireland captain Aaron Hughes admits that he will never get used to these famous nights at Windsor Park.

Sweden, Spain and Denmark have all been defeated at Windsor Park in the quest for Euro 2008 qualification and Hughes maintains that his pride does not diminish with each upset.

He said: "These are big nights, nights that you never forget, no matter where you go or what you do, and Denmark was another to add to that collection.

"If we'd have beaten the smaller sides and not the bigger sides then maybe it wouldn't have been as exciting as the group has been and we wouldn't have had nights like we did on Saturday.

"If someone had given us the scenario where we are going into the last game with even a slim chance, I think we still would have taken it."

While Hughes and company provided a solid platform at the back, the captain was quick to recognise the contribution of a certain record goalscorer at the other end of the pitch.

He added: "David Healy pops up with the winner once again. You run out of superlatives to describe him, but at the end of the day he scores goals, important goals at important times.

"Throughout this campaign we've showed character and spirit to see us through and I think that was on show again against Denmark.

"We knew that, in terms of qualification, it was important to go out and win the game to keep it alive, however it was also important to sign off at home with a win to send the fans home on a high.

"With the conditions there was no messing, it simply was a case of clearing your lines and playing it safe.

"It was obviously difficult to judge the bounce of the ball or how far it would run, but we had to believe in our ability and hoped that it would see us through.

"We know that we've to go to Spain and get a win and hope that things outside our control go our way."

Belfast Telegraph


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