The Legend of Stephen Coyle

This final blog post has taken me a while to write up, mainly because I genuinely wasn’t sure how to present this.

Following the heartbreak of being denied a place at Euro 2028 twice, courtesy of a a 93rd minute goal on both occasions, our efforts were refocused on the next challenge which was the 2028 UEFA Nations League competition.

To be honest, I didn’t much care about this 2028 Nations League group. Stephen Coyle was a goal away from breaking the international goalscoring record. As I’ve mentioned previously, the fate of the national team is a minor aside for me in this extension of my save. All I needed was a goal…

The goal came in the 27th minute of the second game in our Nations League Group. It was by no means glamorous but maybe that is somewhat apt given that a LOT of Coyle’s goals have been through purely opportunistic finishes.

The cross-come-shot from Callum Simpson finds an oustretched leg of Stephen Coyle in the 6 yard box and the rest is (most definitely) history!

It might seem strange to say but from the moment that ball hit the back of the net, my interest in this save had gone. I carried on with the remaining group games, which saw us ensure survival in Division B of the Nations League but I had completed my task.

Choy and Coyle

They’ve made for a fantastic partnership for me – both briefly at Glentoran and then on the international stage.

While Choy’s career seems to be flourishing (now looking likely to be a starter for FC Porto after moderately successful loan spells at Maccabi Tel Aviv, FC Kobenhavn and Burnley), Stephen Coyle seems somewhat settled at Glentoran having become their record league goalscorer to add to his international accolades.

As my time with Northern Ireland comes to an end, here is the standings as they were in January 2029 for one last time:

David Healy: 95 caps / 36 goals

Stephen Coyle: 45 caps / 37 goals

Choy Yiu Fai: 35 caps / 22 goals

I have no doubt that at just 22 years of age, Choy Yiu Fai will go on to smash Stephen Coyle’s record by some distance. I’ll watch on from afar with a virtual tear in my virtual eye.

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