Michael McGovern the hero for Northern Ireland

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When Michael McGovern returned to the Northern Ireland dressing-room following his one-man Alamo performance against Germany, his colleagues rose as one to salute their goalkeeper.

Because of McGovern, Northern Ireland still have a chance of reaching the last 16, and his manager Michael O’Neill praised a “humble, very hard-working lad”.

Asked what he said to McGovern after the game, O’Neill replied: “The players gave him a round of applause; what more does a manager need to say?”

O’Neill said McGovern’s repeated saves, which kept the score down, were of Pat Jennings quality. He noted also that McGovern is out of contract at his club in Scotland, Hamilton Academical.

Hamilton want to re-sign the 31-year-old from Enniskillen but O’Neill added that “a lot of clubs in Scotland want to sign him.

“Clubs in England may want to and he deserves the opportunity to play at the highest level.”

Given that the former Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann was on German television asking if McGovern can speak German and saying he would recommend him to the Bundesliga, McGovern looks to have options far beyond Hamilton.

“I was busy but it was mentally very hard,” the man himself said. “I’m immensely proud and just hope it is enough.

“We knew every goal was crucial so wanted to keep keep it at one and maybe nick a goal of our own.

“Germany had a slow start but they were excellent today, we could not get out. I’ve never had such a busy night and I’ve never played against such quality opposition.

“The boys in front of me were excellent, gave it everything and threw their bodies in front of everything. We really want to go through as this has been a brilliant experience and we want it to continue.”

If Northern Ireland do, it will be down to goal difference, which is why O’Neill, when asked if would be so conservative if France or Wales this weekend becomes reality, said: “No, it’s not in my nature as a coach. But it’s not in my nature to set up to lose 7-0.”

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