Defender set for European Championship finals
JONNY Evans is looking forward to experiencing different challenges and pressures at Euro 2016 in France.
The Baggies defender, who joined last summer from Manchester United, will be part of the first Northern Ireland squad to compete at a major tournament since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
During his time at Old Trafford Evans collected ten major trophies including three Premier League titles, two League Cups, four Community Shields and one FIFA Club World Cup medal.
That record makes him the second most decorated Northern Irishman in history, trailing only the 13 won by Neil Lennon.
Michael O’Neill’s side face Slovakia on Saturday in their final warm-up match before coming up against Poland, Ukraine and world champions Germany in Group C at the finals, and Evans is relishing the opportunity to test himself at an international tournament for the first time.
He said: “I’ve been lucky enough to play in some very big club games throughout my career, but the chance of going to the Euros and to play for Northern Ireland in a major tournament is massive.
“I’ve never experienced this type of format before and I’m really looking forward to the challenge and the pressure of it.
“You only get three games in the group stage, there isn’t much room for error there in any of the games.
“It is a testing group and it’s going to be very tough, but it’s a challenge that we are all looking forward to taking on, it’s something we will relish.
“Germany, Poland and Ukraine is a pretty difficult group, we’ll be the underdogs, but that doesn’t worry us at all.
“We’ve been underdogs all the way through. We were in pot five when the qualification draw was made so we weren’t expected to even make the play-offs, let alone go on and win the group.
“We’ll take that mantle on and see what we can achieve.
“It would be great to get through to the knockout stages, that’s the ultimate aim.
“I honestly believe we can do that and I know that as a squad, we genuinely believe that too.
“We’re going there looking to cause a few upsets and surprise a few people with how good a side we are.”