EURO 2016: Qualification would be my greatest achievement, admits Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis

Northern Ireland skipper Steven Davis
Northern Ireland skipper Steven Davis

Steven Davis admits captaining Northern Ireland at next summer’s Euro finals would be the pinnacle of his career to date.

Victory against Hungary at Windsor Park on Monday will seal their pathway to France.

It is a massive incentive for skipper Davis and his teammates, and a dream they want to turn into reality in Belfast.

“To be fair, in my career it would be the biggest achievement to date,” the Southampton midfielder said.

“It is such a difficult thing for Northern Ireland to qualify for a major tournament, and we have seen that in recent years.

“We are on the cusp of something really special. It would be huge and I would be very proud to achieve that.”

He added: “It is hard not be caught up in the expectation and hype surrounding this game.

“There is a great prize there for us at the end of the game. But it is going to be tough. Hungary will be confident of getting a result, and I expect chances for both sides.

“Hopefully we can go out and hold our nerve and show the quality we have done up to now in the group.”

Two years ago Northern Ireland were nursing a 4-2 defeat to Portugal in a World Cup qualifier, and preparing for an ill-fated trip to Luxembourg where they would fall to an embarrassing 3-2 defeat.

Davis admits it is hard to conceive the country’s footballing turnaround in 24 months.

“When you look back, it has been quite a revival,” he said.

“But we saw signs of progress, and something to build on and luckily in this campaign we have put everything together and things have clicked. Now we have to stay focused.

“We are top of our qualifying group and can reach a major finals. Everyone is just embracing the situation we are in. The mood in the group is high and we are looking forward to the game.”