Euro 2016

Jonny Evans reveals emotion after Ukraine victory

Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans celebrates with his daughter Lottie after the final whistle of the UEFA Euro 2016 win over Ukraine
Kenny Archer in Lyon

ELDER brothers often make their younger siblings cry but instead Jonny Evans admitted he got told off by Corry for turning on the tears on Thursday night.

A first ever victory for Northern Ireland at the Euros, and being part of the first brothers in green on the pitch together in the tournament, made the win over Ukraine extra special, acknowledged Jonny.

“The build-up to this has been out of this world, and to be able to repay everyone who has been involved with a victory – and the fact that I’ve been able to do that with my brother – just makes it incredible.

“I got a bit emotional as well. I hugged him after the game – and I went.”

“You mean you cried?”

“Yeah!”

“Did he?”

“Nah, he was, like, ‘What you crying for?’

“I don’t think anything can top that. I haven’t felt that emotional on a football pitch. The fact my brother was on the pitch as well made it such a great occasion. It was hard to talk afterwards.”

France star Dimitri Payet displayed his emotions post-match too and Evans said he could empathise with him:

“Yes, I can, it’s an emotional time. With international football you are representing a whole nation and you have all your family and friends here too.”

Evans has been involved in some massive occasions with his previous club Manchester United, but he explained that the feelings involved in winning with Northern Ireland were quite contrasting:

“It’s different because when you are playing with Man United a lot of the time you are favourites, you are expected to win. So it’s maybe a different type of emotion, there’s a lot of relief.

“When I won my first league title, at the start it’s relief and then you enjoy it afterwards.

“Even at Man United there were times where you don’t get to enjoy those big moments until after you’ve left the club and look back – because at the time you have to move on, there’s always the next big game or thinking next season we need to win again.

“With Northern Ireland, being underdogs, and going through what we’ve been through in the past in terms of not winning, just makes it all that bit sweeter.”

The 28-year-old laughed when it was put to him how emotional it might be if Northern Ireland manage to reach the last 16, having already assured third place in the group by beating Ukraine:

“Exactly. The fact we’ve got three points now gives us a chance to go through. The way the tournament is set up, it gives teams a chance going into that last game and keeps the tournament alive.”

Next up are World Cup-holders Germany, who still need a point to be certain of qualification for the knockout stages, but Evans is prepared for the challenge:

“Ah, Germany are a fantastic team. But I think if we show that much heart and determination we give ourselves a chance. And I think that’s all we can do.”

Corry’s post-match reaction was different to Jonny’s; even in the mixed zone afterwards he said: “I’m still a bit shocked; it hasn’t really sunk in yet.

“It’s just unbelievable. I can’t describe it. This is right up there with Greece in term of complete performances.

“To beat Ukraine in the European Championships is unbelievable and we are all immensely proud.

“To be a part of this squad and play for your country is something else at the minute.

“I can’t take in the magnitude of this victory. I had a quick look at my phone before leaving the changing room and there were loads of messages and texts.”

The 25-year-old was one of five alterations to the starting side, and he praised the boss for his courage in making so many changes:

“Michael wanted to freshen it up and bring a bit of energy to the team. We went back to the way we were playing before in the qualifiers – and it worked. So, credit to Michael for changing it.

“I was disappointed not to play in the first game but I knew if I got my chance I would give everything I’ve got. I managed to do that and it was a great team performance by everyone.

“We were confident going into the game that we could upset them and that’s what we did. We stuck to the plan and every single member of our squad contributed to that.”

As for Germany, Corry concluded: “We’ve faced big nations before. We will get our recovery right and then we will look forward to facing Germany on Tuesday.”

Fingers crossed there may be more tears of joy – for at least one Evans boy.

Euro 2016

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