Belfast Telegraph

Carl Frampton: Northern Ireland are living my boyhood dream at Euro 2016

By Carl Frampton

There’s only one thing to say — bring on the Germans!

The Northern Ireland lads are living every kid’s dream, including mine. They’re my heroes — and I mean that, I couldn’t have been more proud on Thursday night watching Michael O’Neill’s men beat Ukraine in the Euros.

Now we’ve got the World champions on Tuesday night in Paris — it could hardly be any better than this — and we’ve got a real chance at getting a point which could send us into the last 16.

I really hoped that the Germans would have beaten Poland so they would be already through before playing us but it doesn’t matter, I’m sure Michael O’Neill will have the lads ready to deliver another great performance.

When the team news came out on Thursday some were shocked that Kyle Lafferty was left out but I have to say that I wouldn’t try and tell Michael O’Neill how to pick a team — he has proven over and over again that he’s a really astute manager. And after making five changes what a way it worked out after the disappointment of the loss to Poland.

Going to the stadium in Nice for the Poland game was a great experience. There was a real carnival atmosphere with the Polish and Northern Ireland fans mixing so well — none of the nonsense that the Russian and English fans have been up to.

As soon as I got spotted the fans crowded around and got plenty of selfies and even persuaded me to beat their bass drum.

It was an incredible atmosphere, one of the best experiences of my life and it did give me some idea of what it would be like as a fan at one of my fights — I’ve often said I would like to have an out of body experience and look on as I am fighting in the ring.

Being in the VIP section I had the chance to meet Sir Alex Ferguson which was nice, Jimmy Nesbitt introduced us. The result didn’t turn out the way we wanted but I still believed that we could come up with a performance to show why we had got to the Euros in the first place.

Training had to be re-arranged slightly to make sure I got to see the game against Ukraine. I did an early weights session and then a punching session which ended at 4.30pm.

Then it was a quick dash across town on the Tube to the London Northern Ireland Supporters Club at Philomena’s Pub in Covent Garden.

I got there 15 minutes later and the place was jammed — my gym-mate Josh Taylor, who’s a great prospect, is an adopted Northern Irishman for two weeks.

He loved every minute of it and even joined in with the singing.

The way the lads pressed and put the Ukraine boys under pressure was fantastic. Jamie Ward and Stuart Dallas brought a great energy and intensity and so did Conor Washington. The whole team couldn’t be faulted.

Being a Northern Ireland fan, it’s every kid’s dream to play in the green shirt and to be honest I wished I had been a better footballer than I am a boxer.

But I guess the boxing hasn’t worked out too badly.

It really is an amazing time to be a Northern Ireland sports fan and these guys aren’t ready to come home.

Every one of them are now Northern Ireland sporting legends — and might get even better on Tuesday night when we face the Germans.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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