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Pat's high hopes for Northern Ireland

Posted on 7 September 2015  - 12:55

Pat Jennings has his fingers crossed Northern Ireland achieve something even he couldn’t during his glorious career – qualify for the European Championship finals.

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Northern Ireland are now a win away from history.

Victory over Hungary at Windsor Park this evening (Monday, September 7, 7.45pm) will secure a place in next summer’s Euro 2016 finals in France.

Northern Ireland’s most capped player with 119 caps, Pat helped his country qualify for the 1982 and 1986 World Cup Finals.

They famously beat Spain on home soil in Valencia in the 1982 finals before Pat called time on his legendary career against Brazil in Mexico four years later.

Now, after a 30-year wait, Northern Ireland are on the brink again.

“First of all, it will be a tough game,” said Pat. “Hungary haven’t given a lot of goals away in the last few games (three in seven qualifiers) and that’s always a problem for us, scoring goals.

“But we’ll have fantastic support at home and hopefully that will carry the team over the line.

Below: Pat celebrates after a 0-0 draw against England at Wembley secured World Cup qualification for Northern Ireland in 1985

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“We never qualified for the European Championships. We beat West Germany home and away in qualifying for 1984 and still didn’t make it! (NI lost out to West Germany on goal difference).

“It’s been 30 years since our last appearance in the World Cup but you have to think it was 24 years between tournaments when I played, from 1958 to the World Cup in 1982. It took me 18 years to make it.

“It would be special to make it, a real milestone for the team. The fans deserve it as well. They give unbelievable support wherever the team plays.

“As I said, it will be tough, but they can do it at Windsor Park. The main thing is not to get beaten.”