08 September 2005

Celebrations follow historic win


David Healy celebrates his golden goal

Celebrations went on late into the night after Northern Ireland's historic 1-0 win over England.

Motorists drove through the centre of Belfast sounding their horns and the sound of cheering could be heard in the streets long after the match finished.

It was the first time that Northern Ireland had beaten England in Belfast for 78 years.

Police praised the fans' behaviour with no trouble reported before, during or after the match. No arrests were made.

Late into the night, fans were toasting the golden goal by Leeds striker David Healy which turned football form on its head.

However, speaking on BBC Radio Ulster on Thursday, Healy remained modest about his goalscoring achievement.

Fans were praised by police following the match

"It's one of those where you get your head down, hit it as hard and low as you can, and thankfully it went in," he said.

"I was hoping it was going to go in, but when you actually see it hitting the back of the net, that's when you know you've done something special.

"I'm sure I'll take a lot of credit today, but there were 11 warriors out there last night."

Celebrations may be a little louder in the County Down village of Killyleagh, which is Healy's home town.

Local councillor Eddie Rea said he was going to try to get Down District Council to invite Healy and the rest of the team for a civic reception.

He pointed out that the last Northern Ireland man to score against England back in 1980, Terry Cochrane, was also a native of the town.

Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez put the shock 1-0 World Cup qualifier victory over England down to the belief of his players.

David Healy paid tribute to the '11 warriors' playing for N Ireland

"I said to them it was about belief to win - when they went out one or two did not believe but by half-time I believed it," he said.

"We were magnificent in the second half and the best team won."

Sanchez said the Group Six success surpassed his FA Cup heroics with Wimbledon and Wycombe Wanderers.

"This has got to top it - for a small nation in world footballing terms to beat a team of the calibre of England, and their best team," he said.

"The fans were also magnificent and we played with an extra man - they raised the team, they believed in the team and the team gave it back in bundles."

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said it was a "spectacular and well deserved win", DUP leader Ian Paisley said Northern Ireland had shown they could "beat the best", and Alliance Party sports spokesman Michael Long said the fans had "showed the positive side of local football".

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