EURO 2016 QUALIFIERS: McGinn’s hoping next stop is France

Northern Ireland's Niall McGinn wants to secure a place at Euro 2016 in France with a win over Greece tomorrow night. Picture by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland's Niall McGinn wants to secure a place at Euro 2016 in France with a win over Greece tomorrow night. Picture by William Cherry/Presseye

Winger Niall McGinn knows how massive a win in tomorrow night’s European 2016 Qualifier against Greece could be.

The former Derry City man wasn’t even born the last time Northern Ireland played in a major tournament, so he’s fully aware of how important reaching France next summer could be to football in the country.

“The last time Northern Ireland qualified for a major tournament I wasn’t even born, so to be part of a team that goes to a major tournament and go down in history it would be unbelievable,” he said.

“We are definitely at the good stage in our careers so have to make the most of it and the be all and end all is wanting to qualify for France, so all the lads will be more than ready if called upon.”

The 28-year-old also believes the atmosphere at Windsor Park tomorrow evening will be special.

“It has obviously been a very exciting week, not only for myself but for all of the lads and the management staff and we are all looking forward to it.

“We knew all about the excitement after the Hungary game and to even start thinking about winning the game tomorrow night, the atmosphere is going to be incredible, but we know it’s important game and it’s won we want to win.”

Although all the Green and White Army supporters are travelling to Windsor Park getting ready for a party, McGinn is only too aware that bottom side Greece have the players to spoil the party.

“I was watching the Champions League last week and Greece’s big centre-half (Kyriakos Papadopoulos) scored for Bayer Leverkusen at Barcelona so you can see the standard of players they have.

“I also feel because Greece haven’t won a game in our group, that makes things even more difficult because they have nothing to play for and that means they are going to be more dangerous because they can come to Windsor Park and enjoy the game.

“But we know on our night that we are obviously capable of doing well against anyone at Windsor, so it’s going to be another great occasion, but by no means is it going to be an easy game, I think it’s going to be our hardest game to date.”

The ex-Dungannon Swifts winger knows the expectation levels continue to rise during this campaign, but he’s happy with that.

“The expectation is there because we have obviously done well and the fans have seen how capable the team are at winning games, but we have to be patient as well, there’s no point in us going all guns blazing.

“Michael (O’Neill) will definitely have us set out right and we know that we are in for a tough game.

“But we have two big games against Greece and Finland, so if things don’t happen in the first game then we’ll always have the second game to try and go and get it done. If you are being realistic we want to get across that line as quickly as possible and hopefully that can be tomorrow night.”