Hot-shot Healy shows up Premier League pretenders

March 30, 2007

Healy celebrates after leading Northern Ireland to victory over SwedenThe leading scorer in Euro 2008 qualifying will come down to earth on Friday when he runs out for a team bottom of the English second division for whom he struggles to hold down a first-team place.

The relegation woes of Leeds United took a back seat for a few days as Northern Ireland’s David Healy scored a hat-trick against Liechtenstein and both goals in a 2-1 win over Sweden.

That made it nine goals in six qualifiers as Northern Ireland claimed top spot in their group above the Swedes, Spain and Denmark. His overall tally is 29 goals in 56 appearances – and that for a team who went 13 games without scoring not too long ago.

What Wayne Rooney would give for such a return after failing to score a competitive international goal for almost three years.

So how has Healy outscored more feted and far better paid strikers so comfortably? Perhaps the international experience doesn’t motivate players used to performing in front of huge crowds in major competitions as much as it does those whose bread and butter soccer is a little more mundane.

The step from a Champions League game against Barcelona in ram-full Camp Nou to an international against Andorra in the same city’s sparsely filled Olympic Stadium can hardly be described as up.

But when Healy says he feels as much pride playing for his country now as he did on hisĀ first appearance, you believe him. When the former Manchester United trainee says his country’s success is due to hard work and a great spirit, you can only wonder why such qualities are absent elsewhere.

An earlier post on this blog asked for nominations for Europe’s unsung heroes. How about Healy for starters?

Mitch Phillips is head of UK sports reporting for Reuters


Healy looked a class act against Spain and after all those he probably does deserve some recognition. Can’t see a big club going for him, though. Maybe Spurs?

Posted by Rafa | Report as abusive

Is that a joke? He’s obviously an OK player, full of heart and with some skill. Fine, but one of the players of the year in Europe? Come off it.

Posted by JJJameson | Report as abusive

Scored the winner for Leeds tonight against PNE.

Posted by Mate of the bloke | Report as abusive

Yes Healy’s the man – impotent for Leeds no doubt but when it comes to the great N.I. it’s 1982 World Cup all the way. Come on Laurie – keep that Womble spirit going!

Posted by Simon O | Report as abusive

Its all about pride in the shirt. England players and staff have now become expert at talking a good fight, telling us how ‘big’ this match is or how much pride they get from playing for England but at the end of the day they stugggle to get rearly fired up for internationals. Sadly the manager can not be blamed for that, it down to the 11.
What he can be blamed for is not sorting out the midfield formation.

Posted by ScottJohn | Report as abusive