Will Grigg might have become the unlikely phenomenon of Euro 2016 but the Northern Ireland forward conceded it was “massively disappointing” to be denied playing time during his country’s run in France.
On the back of a prolific season in League One with Wigan Athletic, Grigg won a call-up to Michael O’Neill’s squad and the terrace chant “Will Grigg’s On Fire” became an anthem for fans of Northern Ireland that countless others took to their hearts.
Germany defender Mats Hummels swapped shirts with Grigg due to his cult-hero status but, after Saturday’s last-16 defeat to Wales, O’Neill bluntly explained that the 24-year-old is his fourth-choice striker and that he would not be swayed on selection issues by an infectious terrace song.
— Dom Farrell (@DomFarrell1986) June 21, 2016
“It’s been unbelievable,” said Grigg on his new-found fame. “To hear it at Wigan for a start, and to hear it on such a larger stage, it’s been fantastic. It’s brilliant you know.
“Our fans have been unbelievable, I think there’s a special feeling between the players and the fans. The atmosphere around us has been amazing and it’s disappointing to lose.
“The song is one thing, but to come to a tournament like this and not play, as a professional footballer, is massively disappointing.”
One man who both played and scored at the tournament for Northern Ireland was Niall McGinn.
The Aberdeen winger came off the bench to seal a superb 2-0 Group C win over Ukraine, although he was unable to repeat the feat at the Parc des Princes as Gareth McAuley’s own goal saw Wales over the line.
“On a personal level it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” McGinn said. “Even just to be at a major tournament, but the memories of just beating Ukraine was just amazing and for me to score on a personal note.
“Now we just want to get home, enjoy our time off and look forward to the future with Northern Ireland.”
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