Sarah McFadden has described Northern Ireland’s qualification for UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 as “one of the best moments of my life”.
A 4-1 aggregate victory over Ukraine in their qualification play-off on Tuesday saw Northern Ireland qualify for their first major tournament.
The 33-year-old says the magnitude of their achievement is only beginning to sink in, after goals from captain Marissa Callaghan and Nadene Caldwell ensured their place in next summer’s tournament.
- Northern Ireland Women qualify for Euro 2022
- Callaghan: Shiels made Euros dream possible
👋 @UEFAWomensEURO #ANewDream #GAWA #GameChangersNI pic.twitter.com/M3BWf9xL2a
“This is probably one of the best moments of my life,” McFadden said. “I’ve been married and I have a child but this is literally up there with those two moments.
“It is just something that I don’t think we are ever going to realise how amazing it is until maybe we finish playing or until next summer when we get to the Euros.”
“At half-time, we were a little bit under the cosh. Ukraine came out very, very fast and we just said we need to ride this storm.
“Once we got the goal from Marissa (Callaghan), it was almost as if the weight of the world was off our shoulders. We knew we were going to do it, so it was great to get the win in the end.”
Northern Ireland came into the return leg carrying a 2-1 advantage from the first match, and boss Kenny Shiels said pre-match that qualification would go down as one of the all-time great sporting achievements.
Any nerves were kept at bay by the positivity of the group and McFadden credits Shiels with some bold tactical decisions which ultimately paid dividends.
“I think before the game it was all very positive, it was going in with the mindset that we were going into the game to win and we weren’t going to sit back and just get the draw,” McFadden added.
“It was all very positive all week. We changed our formation, went three at the back which is sometimes a bit risky.
“This whole campaign and the message from Kenny (Shiels), we have taken it onto the field and carried out what we needed to.”
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