Jonny Evans unique: Northern Eire defender set to win a centesimal cap in opposition to Greece in Nations League | Soccer Information
It was the morning after certainly one of Northern Eire’s most well-known outcomes and 18-year-old Jonny Evans was about to go away Belfast having been a shock debutant at left-back within the 3-2 win over Spain.
He was heading again to Manchester United, the place he had but to make a senior look, realizing his profession had taken a dramatic upward flip following an assured show in opposition to Raul, Fernando Torres and David Villa.
Unsurprisingly his telephone lit up relentlessly with calls and messages from well-wishers however one particularly left a long-lasting mark on the then-teenager.
“I used to be on the best way to the airport and Sir Alex Ferguson rang me and stated I might go on and get 100 caps,” the Leicester captain tells Sky Sports activities Information.
“So it is all the time been one thing I’ve set my sights on. Over time with accidents you doubt if you happen to’ll ever get there however I have been lucky to have spell of video games over the previous couple of years.
“I feel I believed most video games (after Spain) could be straightforward and that might be the norm,” he says with fun.
As an alternative, Evans was a part of a squad that suffered lean instances when Lawrie Sanchez left earlier than the arrival of Michael O’Neill revived their fortunes.
Underneath O’Neill, he achieved the lifelong dream of taking part in for his county at a significant finals and shortly discovered himself passing David Healy, Mal Donaghy and Sammy McIlroy within the bid to succeed in 100 caps.
For Evans at this time is that day. He needed to negotiate Saturday’s recreation in opposition to Kosovo, and survive a bodily battle in opposition to striker Vedat Muriqi with out a reserving, to keep away from suspension for the essential Nations League recreation in opposition to Greece.
“There isn’t any higher feeling than taking part in on your nation. If you play worldwide soccer you are feeling like you’re representing different folks. I feel that is the great thing about it. In the course of the anthems you’re searching for your loved ones.
“At away video games we see followers who’ve been coming for 10, 15 or 20 years and all the time cease for a chat. A few of these folks coached me at youthful age teams so you are feeling such as you’re doing it for them too.”
There was no hesitation when requested about his worldwide profession spotlight.
“Beating Ukraine in France (NI’s first European Championships victory) was one thing I would by no means skilled on a soccer pitch. That is most likely my favorite recreation ever.
“It introduced out an emotion inside me that I did not know was there. There have been tears of happiness.
“There have been family and friends who had been with me all the best way. I feel that is what made it particular.”
Of the male Northern Eire gamers solely Steven Davis, who will win his one hundred and fortieth cap in opposition to Greece, Pat Jennings and Aaron Hughes have celebrated the century of appearances.
Supporters will hope the 34-year-old, a person who brings a relaxed presence and organisation to the again line, can play on past the subsequent marketing campaign.
“After Greece there is a large break till March. I’ll take it recreation by recreation,” he says earlier than spontaneously calling Josh Magennis over to free him from the interview.
In typical modest vogue, Evans prefers to concentrate on the workforce with the purpose to higher or match the Cyprus outcome to keep away from a relegation play-off.
The 2 issues we will say for sure? Evans will go down as certainly one of Northern Eire’s all-time biggest gamers. And secondly? Sir Alex Ferguson hardly ever will get it improper.