adoOLDHAM Athletic and World cup finals aren’t phrases you would often associate together, however winger Ryan McLaughlin could be about to change that as his hopeful journey of Oldham to Moscow continues.
The former Liverpool youngster is part of the Northern Ireland side that has overcome all the odds and qualified for the world cup play offs, despite being placed in a group with World champions Germany.
Northern Ireland finished second in their World Cup Qualifying group, behind 2014 winners Germany. The green army finished on 19 points from a possible 27, 7 ahead of third place Czech Republic. They also boasted the second best goal difference in the group, far superior than the four teams behind them. The teams against all odds performances see them on the verge of their first World Cup appearance since 1986, something McLaughlin is extremely excited about.
“Obviously it’s a big deal, as a kid it’s a dream to play in a World Cup so for something like this to happen to a country as small as ours it’s a massive deal for us. We obviously have a very good chance so everyone is buzzing in the country”.
Northern Ireland’s qualification for the playoffs was largely down to their impressive home form. McLaughlin spoke of the affect the Green Army fans have on the team and how they managed to turn Windsor park into a fortress.
“They’re unbelievable, at home games they make it a fortress. No team really likes coming to Windsor Park so they’re brilliant. They’ve been there through thick and thin when things haven’t been as good so they deserve the good times now”
Ryan also faces some interesting competition for a place in the starting eleven, coming from his own brother. Connor McLaughlin currently plays for Millwall from the Championship after spending last season with Fleetwood, and has recently broke into the Northern Ireland first team.
“He’s been very good, usually I would play one up ahead of him so it will be good to play in the same side. We’ve only done that in a couple of friendlies so it would be good to happen in an actual qualifier, it would be a proud family moment. I will be able to score more though, he’s only a defender.”
Playing for Northern Ireland isn’t the only reason Ryan has been in the news recently though. He shot to internet stardom earlier this summer when his social media prank went viral. McLaughlin posted on his Instagram account that he had signed for FC.Barcelona alongside a picture of him at the Nou Camp holding the famous red and blue jersey. Although clearly a prank to most, some internet news sites took the post seriously and even reported that the transfer had been completed. Fair to say he ruffled a few feathers.
So whether it’s at Windsor Park, Boundary park or even the famous Camp Nou, McLaughlin is expecting to light up any pitch he plays on. He will be in action next for the Green army in the first leg of their World Cup playoff against Switzerland with the first leg to be played at Windsor Park across the dates of the 9th-11th November.