The simple fact that Northern Ireland have made it into the competition is reason enough to celebrate – regardless of what the results are.
That is the suggestion from North Belfast man Gary McAllister, 38, chairman of the Amalgamation of NI Supporters Clubs, who spoke to the News Letter from the south of the country on Friday just over 48 hours before Northern Ireland’s first game.
“There are people from all parts of Northern Ireland, people who live in other parts of the world but come from Northern Ireland– children, whole families. It’s very diverse,” he said.
“There’s a child celebrating her first birthday [on Sunday], and people in their 70s.”
Asked what he would feel if Northern Ireland lost their initial three games, he said: “I think the fact we’ve qualified is a huge achievement, a huge positive. Let’s just celebrate the experience of qualifying.”
He was also asked about the trouble which flared between England fans and French locals in Marseille on Thursday night, to which he replied: “I think that’s the supporters of another country. Northern Ireland fans have a reputation for being well-behaved.”
He said that there are around 50 fans in France who have volunteered to act as assistants in the event of any problems.
They can be reached via the Twitter account @AONISC .