OPINION: Northern Ireland 20th in the world and I’m in dreamland

NI defender Jonny Evans
NI defender Jonny Evans

I’m still in a state of disbelief - Northern Ireland are placed 20th in FIFA’s rankings.

Not 120th - but 20th and if I am being honest I still think I am dreaming.

It's a thumbs up from Aaron Hughes

It's a thumbs up from Aaron Hughes

But it is a fantastic achievement for Michael O’Neill and his players because a few years ago we would have accepted 120th and been happy with that.

O’Neill has turned things around and we are on the verge of getting to the World Cup Finals in Russia next summer if we keep our nerve and stay the course.

Players like Jonny Evans and Steve Davis are that wee bit of quality and stardust that you need in a side - while the rest have been punching well above their weight in recent months.

One to mention is veteran defender Aaron Hughes who was majestic against the Czech Republic in the 2-1 victory at Windsor Park.

The 37-year-old purred round against the Czechs like a Rolls Royce and did his country proud.

But to be fair all of the men who have taken to the pitch during this campaign have played their part - everyone is a hero as the new ranking proves.

There is more to come from them all and Russia is a real possibility and not just a pipe dream.

As for today’s Danske Bank Premiership Linfield boss David Healy will have had a few sleepless nights since his side lost 2-1 to arch rivals Crusaders on Tuesday night.

Healy hates losing - and I mean hates it - so Ballinamllard can expect a backlash. Be afraid - be very afraid.