'Immensely proud' O'Neill relishes role of Evans as leader
Thursday 18 October 2012
After a frustrating few days for the Home Nations, Northern Ireland have reason to be the proudest of their work.
Michael O'Neill's side managed a 1-1 draw in the Dragao in Porto on Tuesday night. They have achieved famous wins before in recent years, particularly over England and Spain. They were a long way from Windsor Park but still produced a performance of remarkable commitment and organisation.
Still early into O'Neill's tenure as manager, he was delighted with his players, who were still leading with 11 minutes left.
"This is a team that is in its infancy in many ways, it's a transitional period for us, so to see them play with that spirit and discipline makes me immensely proud," said O'Neill, who won two League of Ireland titles with Shamrock Rovers before taking this job last year.
"We have experienced players but also young and inexperienced players at club and international level, but we've done a lot of work and you've seen it pay off. This is a group who want to learn and progress and have nights like this, to perform for Northern Ireland and make people proud of them again."
Northern Ireland are unlikely to finish first or second in a group including Portugal and Russia but can be delighted with their progress. "We said before the game that the most important thing was not to let anyone question their character," said O'Neill. "They certainly did that from one to 11, and there are also lads who didn't get involved in the match who have worked hard all week too. It was a huge success for us and hopefully a step in the right direction."
O'Neill had special praise for his captain, Jonny Evans, who was heroic in defence, as were Aaron Hughes and Craig Cathcart: "He is going to be a leader of men and a leader of this team."
peopleContenders for Time magazine's Person of the Year are a mixture of the good, the bad and the holy
tvSteven Moffat reveals the actor was dying to take on the role of the Time Lord and says he is excited to see what he will do with the character
sportBayern Munich 2 Manchester City 3: City come from two down to beat reigning European Champions
newsAs the world remembers Mandela the hero, the prison where he spent 27 years seems all the more brutal
arts + ents... and a chance to paint Booker Prize winning author Hilary Mantel
danceUnder Tamara Rojo's inspired direction, it seems possible that it could challenge the dominance of the Royal Ballet. We meet some established names and rising stars
travelDiscover Uruguay's jet-set beach resort, an Atlantic enclave with plenty of art and culture to explore on the side
Latest in Sport
Transfer news round-up: Barcelona to offer £37m for Manchester United striker Robin van Persie; Manuel Neuer interests Manchester City; Luiz Gustavo on Tottenham radar
Roy Keane omits Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs from 'greatest' Manchester United team
Gareth Bale puts five-bedroom Essex mansion up for sale at £2.2m following £86m switch from Tottenham to Real Madrid
Former England captain Mick Mills 'turned a blind eye' to initiation ceremony abuse at Stoke City, which included sexual assault dubbed 'The Glove'
Manchester United player ratings: The best (and worst) performers for David Moyes during the season so far
- 1 Mountain goats' miraculous escape from avalanche captured in dramatic video footage
- 2 It’s shameful that our universities have accepted gender segregation under pressure from the most oppressive religious fanatics
- 3 Sir Ian McKellen hits back at Damian Lewis' 'fruity actor' claims
- 4 Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
- 5 Selfie at funeral: Cameron squeezes in on Obama snap at Mandela memorial