Tuesday 21 June 2016

Michael O'Neill Challenges Northern Ireland To Make History

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has challenged his players to make memories that last a lifetime in Tuesday's clash against world champions Germany.  After beating Ukraine 2-0 last week, Northern Ireland need another victory to guarantee a last 16 place, but could also go through from Group C with a draw or even a defeat.

Representing a nation of about 1.8m inhabitants, they are playing at a major tournament for the first time in 30 years but O'Neill said the match in Paris should be no cause for trepidation. He said “I don't think there's any tension. I think this is a special moment, if you'd offered us the chance to play the world champions in Paris where a victory could mean that we would possibly win the group, I think we'd have happily taken that This is an opportunity for all of us to enjoy and savour. When we look back on our careers, hopefully it'll be something that sticks in the memory for a long time. To make that even more memorable, we have to obviously try and get a result and get to the next phase of the tournament. It's as simple as that.”

While O'Neill is pleased that Northern Ireland's return to the global stage has cast light on the achievements of the greats of yesteryear, he says that going forward, the country's football association faces a challenge to deliver sustainable success.

He said “The nice thing that this tournament has done for us after 30 years is that for players like Pat Jennings, Norman Whiteside, Jimmy Nicholl, who's part of the back-room staff, it's brought their achievements to the fore again”.

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