EURO 2016: Jonny Evans ready to swap sofa for cut and thrust of France 2016
Jonny Evans is ready to swap his armchair for the cut and thrust of Euro 2016 this summer.
Four years ago Evans watched the finals at home with his foot propped up after undergoing ankle surgery.
The defender recalls the hype and excitement surrounding the tournament – co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine.
Fast forward to 2016 and the 28-year-old is preparing to put his own stamp on Euro 2016 in France.
Northern Ireland kick off their Group C campaign against Poland on June 12 in Nice – they will also play Ukraine and Germany.
It is a seismic change in fortune for West Brom defender Evans, and one that he is determined to seize.
“I think the standout memory of the Euros for me was four years ago. I had literally just undergone an ankle operation,” said Evans.
“I’d come out of surgery and I think England and France were playing each other – I think it finished 1-1.
“I literally had the leg propped up the whole tournament, sitting watching the games.
“I was in a single armchair, in front of the television, recuperating from injury.”
Evans admits he felt inspired as he watched some of his club team-mates play in Euro 2012.
“Euro 2012 was a great tournament and I vividly remember thinking how fantastic it would be to play on such a stage with Northern Ireland,” he added.
“I knew some of the players involved in the 2012 tournament so I was following it very closely. For us to be there now is great.
“It’ll be weird not being that man on the sofa.”
Evans is expected to feature in a defensive back three for Michael O’Neill’s side in France.
O’Neill adopted a new-look 3-5-2 formation during the qualifiers and in recent friendlies, with Northern Ireland going 11 games unbeaten with Friday night’s 3-0 win over Belarus.
“It becomes a little more man for man (when you’re in a back three),” Evans added.
“A lot of the times as a defender, you’ll find yourself one v one defending.
“It almost becomes more of a pressing game where everyone has to get up to the ball at the right time and there’s no room for error.”