It amazed a lot of teammates how Connor McLaughlin, the full-back from Fleetwood, England League One, suddenly emerged from ‘nowhere’ to feature in nearly every match in the qualifier matches to Euro 2016 tournament.
The 25-year-old has hardly been left behind in the team since, missing just one game in qualifying which was due to suspension. McLaughlin prepared and was determined to play against some of the best attackers in the world as Northern Ireland met Germany, Poland and Ukraine in their first appearance at the European Championship finals on the back of 12 matches without a loss.
“It has been an amazing journey, a few years ago nobody would know who I was,” said McLaughlin at the squad’s training base at Saint-Georges-de-Reneins. “It has been brilliant to be a part of this team and making history nearly every week now. We have got an unbeaten run going and it is amazing to be present and participating here. Hopefully we can do well in the tournament.
The Northern Ireland international made his international debut under Nigel Worthington as a substitute in the 3-0 defeat to Italy in October 2011, but drifted out of the over to him, another chance to showcase himself.
The tournament gave the former Preston North End defender the great opportunity to declare his talent to other clubs which he executed wisely, however, O’Neil strongly believes that the defender can play and compete successfully in higher level among the best players.