Belfast Telegraph

Worthy feels Boruc’s pain

Nigel Worthington must have been the only Northern Ireland fan inside Windsor Park who had any sort of sympathy for calamity keeper Artur Boruc.

The international boss strolled into the post-match press conference with all the swagger of a man who could not be annoyed.

Inside he must have been laughing as much as David Healy and Warren Feeney at the Celtic custodian’s catalogue of blunders but we wasn’t going to show it as publicly as his strikers.

Instead, there must have been a sense of relief for Worthington. Defeat on Saturday night would not only have ended any World Cup dreams, but serious questions would have been asked of the most expensive Northern Ireland manager ever.

“It's a horrible moment for him. I wouldn't like to see that happen against my team,” said Worthington.

“Yes, obviously, I was pleased we scored from it, but I feel for the lad. He is a professional and a top keeper, so it's never nice to see a player endure a moment like that. These things happen in football and you've just got to get on with it. I shook his hand and I wished him all the best for the rest of the campaign.”

You didn’t have to dig too deep, however, for Worthington to slightly enjoy the comical third goal — and he had no doubts as to who was to thank for the ultimately winning goal.

He added: “All our preparation was about what we could do and that's the way we approach every game but we knew we could put them under pressure.

“That was certainly the case for the third goal when Warren Feeney chasing a ball and with the supporters already on Artur Boruc's back, he made a mistake.

“That's what we needed to do all day; we piled the pressure on and got the goals. The supporters played a huge role in that goal and I thank them for that. They really are something special.

“The support was fantastic and there was a real atmosphere, a real buzz, so it was a super day.

“Players react to that atmosphere. We have 13,500 but it's like having 50,000, or even 80,000, anywhere else. The noise generated is fantastic. That affects the opposition without a doubt.”

So often, Worthington has had to sit in front of the media to explain a disappointing result but there were no excuses on |Saturday. Instead there was |an air of caution from the boss.

While Worthington was thrilled with the 3-2 win over a fancied Poland side — who looked anything but potential table-toppers — he warned against thinking the job was now done. ahead of the visit of Slovenia on Wednesday.

“This was a terrific win and the players will enjoy their night but then it is back to work on Sunday,” he said.

“There is no point doing the hard work on Saturday and not backing it up on Wednesday.

“I don't want there to be any ‘after the Lord Mayor's Show’ about the Slovenia game and I'm sure we can go from strength to strength.”

Worthington’s counterpart Leo Beenhakker, on the other hand, looked anything but the broken man. During a jovial press conference the experienced Poland coach shared a few wisecracks but you could sense an atmosphere between the Dutchman and his error-prone keeper.

He said: “I don’t want to say much about Boruc. I was told by our medical staff at 10am that Lukusz Fabianski wasn’t well and couldn’t play, and that answer, I think, will say everything.

“He is a goalkeeper who has represented his country on many occasions and played in a lot of Celtic games against Rangers so I don’t think the atmosphere would have annoyed him or got to him.

“Maybe a 24-year-old would have been annoyed but not Artur Boruc.”

Belfast Telegraph


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