Northern Ireland’s 1982 World Cup hero Gerry Armstrong insists the boys in green can deliver a shock against Poland in their first ever appearance at the Euro finals.
Armstrong, scorer of the goal that sunk hosts Spain in Valencia 34 years ago, believes Michael O’Neill’s battlers have the pride and passion to triumph in their opening Group C game in Nice on Sunday week.
The legendary striker was speaking at Thursday’s draw for the SuperCupNI international youth tournament in Belfast.
He said: “I see similarities between this team and Billy Bingham’s side back in my day.”
Armstrong, now a Sky TV commentator and analyst, added: “Bingham told us to believe we could beat anyone and we did not ever doubt him.
“Michael has engendered the same spirit in his players.
“They have dared to dream in qualifying and look where that took them – right to the very top of their group. It’s fantastic what he has already achieved and there is no reason why it shouldn’t continue.”
He said the class of 2016 are well grounded and unaffected by all the hype surrounding them.
“Poland are tipped to get out of the group along with Germany but I honestly believe we can stage an upset along the way and throw the cat among the pigeons.
“The players know their strengths and weaknesses. That is so important. That is why I think they can take things to another level on the big stage.”
Armstrong is pleased to see Espanyol and Real Sociedad sending representatives to compete in the inaugural Under-21 SuperCupNI next month.
“This will be a fabulous new venture which will lift the standard of competition even higher,” he said. “That’s some achievement considering what the organisers have managed since the tournament started in 1983.”