EURO 2016: NI’s Gareth McAuley is a hero, says pal Gary Haveron

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley with Steven Davis

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley with Steven Davis

One of Gareth McAuley’s closest friends has described him as a ‘hero’ following Northern Ireland’s historic win in Lyon.

Larne man Gary Haveron, who played alongside McAuley at Irish League club Coleraine, took to Facebook to sing the praises of the West Brom veteran defender.

Gary Haveron says his pal, Gareth McAuley, has earned everything he has achieved in football. INLT 25-903-CON

Gary Haveron says his pal, Gareth McAuley, has earned everything he has achieved in football. INLT 25-903-CON

Haveron has watched his close pal rise through the ranks in football. From going out on loan to Ballyclare Comrades when on the books of Linfield, to signing for English Premier League outfit West Brom.

“The Northern Ireland players were magnificent against Ukraine, everyone of the them, but we needed a hero and again Big G was exactly that,” said the former Carrick Rangers boss.

“Gareth didn’t get his first cap till he was 27. He gave up a really good job to train full-time chasing a dream. Who does that? Honestly?

“He has earned every second of game time he gets, from the Irish League to the English Premier League via nearly every level of English football and onto the international stage.

“No defender has scored more for our country than the big man and nobody deserves their moment in the spotlight more than him because he’s worked incredibly hard to get to where he is. Hard work and dedication!

“I know his family couldn’t be more proud of him but the whole country is proud of him, too.”