April 19, 2024

Northern Ireland are finally showing the talent coming through, says proud Shea Charles

Northern Ireland midfielder Shea Charles bids to fend off his Denmark opponent Matt O’Riley at Windsor Park

Northern Ireland midfielder Shea Charles admits the victory over Denmark was an occasion he savoured

Northern Ireland midfielder Shea Charles admits the victory over Denmark was an occasion he savoured

Northern Ireland midfielder Shea Charles engages in an aerial battle against Denmark counterpart Thomas Delaney

Northern Ireland midfielder Shea Charles engages in an aerial battle against Denmark counterpart Thomas Delaney

Northern Ireland midfielder Shea Charles bids to fend off his Denmark opponent Matt O’Riley at Windsor Park

Northern Ireland midfielder Shea Charles bids to fend off his Denmark opponent Matt O’Riley at Windsor Park

Northern Ireland midfielder Shea Charles admits the victory over Denmark was an occasion he savoured

Northern Ireland midfielder Shea Charles admits the victory over Denmark was an occasion he savoured

Julian Taylor

Today at 05:31

Northern Ireland’s vivacious defeat of Denmark proved to be the finest hour for delighted Shea Charles.

 

The noble 2-0 victory at Windsor Park against the top-ranked Danes was a scintillating climax to an otherwise hugely disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign for the men in green.

 

However, Charles is keen to accentuate the positives in wake of the win over Kasper Hjulmand’s classy outfit, who are bound for the Finals in Germany in the summer of 2024

 

It was too little, too late, of course, for Northern Ireland, but finishing Group H on a high was imperative – with Southampton ace Charles already looking at the calendar to shake his international feathers again.

 

Michael O’Neill’s side must wait until March 2024 for the next gathering with, finally, a rise in collective assurance from players and fans alike.

 

“For me, it was probably the most enjoyable game I’ve played for Northern Ireland,” declared Charles. “Even though we aren’t going through to the Finals, I think that is something we can build upon for the future.

 

“We can now move forward, although we do have to wait for a few months. I can’t wait for March now to push on.

 

“I feel like we have deserved to finish on a high. We have lost a few games in the campaign 1-0, and to come out after the loss on Friday against Finland and perform like we have was great.

 

“He (O’Neill) told us to just go out and do what we have been doing, to go out and play with pride. We weren’t thinking about points, and it paid off.”

 

With a mere nine points dredged up from the qualifiers – six of those against group minnows San Marino – this particular campaign has been a hard sell to the Green and White Army. Charles, as part of a cadre who performed with deeply impressive organisation and character against Denmark, helped provide grand cheer at last.

 

“That was what the fans deserve,” added the 20-year-old. “The fans have been unbelievable throughout the campaign, travelling all the way to Kazakhstan, and at home, the stands are always full, so they have been nothing but unbelievable for us.

“Ending the campaign like that and having a clean sheet as well is really important. We know we can go forward and score goals now, and that is something we were working on towards the back end of this campaign. I feel that is something we can now work on.

 

“Both our goals came from quick attacks and that is what we have to do more of. We have quick wingers, with Conor (McMenamin) and Paul (Smyth), so being able to get behind defences and put crosses in is something we need to do.”

 

Northern Ireland have discovered a bracing, if long-belated, strand of resolve, too; an aspect which pleases the midfielder, for whom Southampton paid Manchester City £15m in July.

 

“The way we survived in the first half, especially towards the end when we were under a lot of pressure, and then coming back was great,” explained Charles. “There are times in games when you just have to survive for spells of 10 to 15 minutes, and when you can do that, then you can go out and counter-attack. And, fortunately, (against Denmark) we were able to score goals.”

 

With a dozen Northern Ireland caps to his name already, Charles – other than an out-of-character red card in the defeat at home to Slovenia in October – has been consistently singled out for his precocious nature on the field. A player who simplifies things in the engine room.

 

“The praise makes you feel good, obviously, as it’s always good to be seen as a mature player on the pitch,” he noted. “I think that’s what I brought in my time at City and now it is what I’m trying to implement at Southampton.

 

“We are finally beginning to show the talent we have coming through. There’s Isaac (Price), Trai (Hume) and Dale (Taylor) as well all growing and I think that’s really important, especially for the fans to see Isaac getting on the scoresheet as well.”

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