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Legends back O'Neill's men to finish job



Sammy McIlroy

Sammy McIlroy

Getty Images

Sammy McIlroy

Northern Ireland's 1986 World Cup heroes have backed Michael O'Neill's side to rekindle the spirit of that famous 0-0 draw against England at Wembley in 1985 and make the finals in Russia next summer by winning next month's play-off.

As O'Neill's men will not be seeded for the draw next Tuesday they will not face the Republic of Ireland, but could be handed a showdown with Italy, Croatia, Denmark or either Portugal or Switzerland.

In November 1985, Billy Bingham's side got the draw they needed against England to make the finals in Mexico.

O'Neill's men are now eyeing a first World Cup appearance in 32 years and Sammy McIlroy, who was captain that famous night at Wembley, said: "Few people gave us any hope, but we gave it 100% and Northern Ireland teams have shown over the years that anything is possible if they give it everything. There was a great spirit and camaraderie in the team and I can see similar qualities in Michael's team."

McIlroy's international team-mate Nigel Worthington added: "You've got to stick together and fight for everything. We are at our best when people write us.

"For a lot of the players this opportunity won't come around again and I believe they can handle the occasion and take it."

Belfast Telegraph