Football/Soccer

Jonny and Corry Evans set to join elite list at Euro 2016 with Northern Ireland

Corry Evans says it will be 'extra special' to represent Northern Ireland along with brother Jonny at Euro 2016
Philip Watson

Brothers Jonny and Corry Evans will represent Northern Ireland at this summer’s European Championships for the first time in the country’s history, joining a small group of sibling partnerships to achieve this.

In years gone by football family’s such as Brian and Michael Laudrup, Gary and Phil Neville and Frank and Ronald De Boer have represented their countries at the Euro’s, and this Sunday in Nice it’s the Evans brothers turn to add themselves to that exclusive, elite list of stars.

This year’s Euro 2016 is in contention to have a record five sets of siblings taking part in the tournament, but no brothers have won the competition together since 1988. Cue Jonny and Corry.

Away from the dreaming the two brothers, from Belfast, were a vital part of Michael O’Neill’s squad that qualified for this year’s European competition in France, but competing with Northern Ireland didn’t always seem to be the dream for the pair in their childhood.

“For some reason, Corry was always a Brazil fan and I was an Italy fan growing up,” said Jonny Evans.

“Corry liked the Brazil kit, so he was always [Roberto] Carlos and I was Maldini.

“We always looked at the major teams in the tournaments and we'd play against each other, whether it was outside with an actual football, or on Fifa.”

Of course this was short lived, the pair quickly realised their aspiration's to take their country to the competition that always seemed to have eluded it over the years.

Jonny talks about Euro 2012 with fond(ish) memories, watching it while nursing himself back to health after an ankle operation. “I literally had the leg propped up the whole tournament, sitting watching the games,” he said.

“I was in a single armchair, in front of the television, recuperating from injury. 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.

“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”

Corry, Michael O'Neill's utility man in midfield, explained how it will be extra special to represent his country at a major competition along side his big brother.

“I'm very proud. It's going to be great to be in France with Jonny and hopefully play on such a big stage in front of thousands of people,” he said.

“We've definitely made our family proud representing our country together, but to do it at the European championship is extra special. It's going to be great.”

As special as it may be for the midfielder, brother Jonny has the unenviable task of marking Robert Lewondoski in this Sunday’s Group C opener, along with the small matter of trying to keep out world champions Germany on June 21.

A challenge for any defender, no doubt, but a challenge Jonny is relishing it seems. "They will be the big challenges you face as a player,” said the West Brom man.

“Sometimes as a defender, playing against better players, you up your game and your concentration levels have to be raised.

“You try and get yourself into a mindset where you're totally focused on the game. Everyone of us will have to do that if we want to be successful in this tournament.”

It’s a focus and an eagerness that seems to be echoed throughout the squad in preparation for the North's debut on the European stage, according to the 28-year-old.

“It's a massive tournament and occasion, and one we can't wait to be involved in,” said Jonny.

“The lads probably met up a day earlier than the manager planned, so that shows you the enthusiasm the lads have in terms of getting together and get started”

Music to every Northern Ireland fan’s ears going in to their first ever European Championship, but for players and fans alike, ‘It'll be weird not being that man on the sofa’ this summer.

Brother at previous Euros

1976

Netherlands: Rene and Willy van de Kerkhof

1980

Belgium: Luc and Marc Millecamps

Germany: Bernd and Karlheinz Förster

Italy: Franco and Giuseppe Baresi

1984

Germany: Bernd and Karlheinz Förster

1988

Netherlands: Erwin and Ronald Koeman

1996

Denmark: Brian and Michael Laudrup

England: Gary and Phil Neville

2000

Belgium: Emil and Mbo Mpenza

England: Gary and Phil Neville

Netherlands: Frank and Ronald de Boer

Sweden: Daniel and Patrik Andersson

2004

Croatia: Niko and Robert Kova?

England: Gary and Phil Neville

Switzerland: Murat and Hakan Yakin

2008

Croatia: Niko and Robert Kova?

Russia: Vasili and Aleksei Berezutski

2016

Belgium: Eden and Thorgan Hazard, Jordan and Romelu Lukaku

Northern Ireland: Corry and Jonny Evans

Russia: Vasili and Aleksei Berezutski

Albania and Switzerland: Taulant and Granit Xhaka

Football/Soccer

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