Belfast Telegraph

Michael told me to enjoy myself, says proud Saville

 

By Paul Ferguson

Northern Ireland's latest recruit, George Saville, admitted he couldn't have made his international debut on a better stage - a packed and pumping Windsor Park with the mighty Germans as opposition.

The Millwall midfielder only came to the attention of boss Michael O'Neill a couple of weeks ago when it was found out that Englishman Saville qualifies for Northern Ireland through his Enniskillen-born grandmother.

But O'Neill had enough faith in him to send the 24 year-old former Chelsea academy player on for the last 10 minutes in midfield as Corry Evans was withdrawn and he certainly made his presence felt.

Saville says: "It was a proud moment for me and my family and I was delighted to make my debut at Windsor Park - especially at home against the world champions. It was a great night for me personally."

Saville showed no signs of nerves as he waited to go on against Germany and he admitted he felt reassured after boss O'Neill had a quiet word in his ear.

"Michael just said for me to go on and enjoy it. I think we were 2-0 down at the time, so he just said enjoy the occasion, which I did. Obviously the result was a bit of a pity, but we're playing against the world champions so we can't be too hard on ourselves.

"I did feel a little bit sorry for the boys during the first half as the Germans were on top so much. But that's football. Sitting on the bench you feel a bit helpless in that you can't affect it until you're asked to go on. (Germany) are a top top side and they showed that.

"Our fans though were fantastic - unbelievable support all the way to the final whistle. They were even singing when the final whistle went. Fantastic."

Saville travelled to Oslo with his international team-mates yesterday on the Irish FA charter and did a little bit of training in the Norwegian capital while the starters from Thursday's game rested up.

O'Neill has said he is likely to play his strongest team against Norway as Northern Ireland go in search of a victory which will clinch a play-off place and also the much-needed seeding.

But with six players on a booking and walking a suspensiuon tightrope including midfielders Steven Davis, Corry Evans and Ollie Norwood, Saville could once again be called into action.

"Our focus turns to Sunday now," says Saville. "We'll go into that, put the Germany match out of our minds a bit and put 100% into the Sunday game."

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