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Friday 18 August 2017

Michael O'Neill is the best manager I've played for - Lafferty

Kyle Lafferty became the second-highest goalscorer in Northern Ireland's history
Kyle Lafferty became the second-highest goalscorer in Northern Ireland's history

Kyle Lafferty hailed Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill as the best manager he has played for after yet another match-winning performance at Windsor Park.

In recent months Lafferty has been transformed from an infuriatingly erratic performer to the spearhead of his country's unlikely push for a place at Euro 2016.

He netted both his side's goals in Sunday's 2-1 win over Finland, a sweetly-hit volley and a deft header, taking Northern Ireland to 12 points from a possible 15 and his scoring tally to five in as many qualifiers.

It is all a far cry from O'Neill's first campaign, where Lafferty contributed more red cards (one) than goals (zero).

And the 27-year-old, currently on loan at Rizespor from Norwich, knows who to thank.

"The last campaign I let everyone down, but Michael had a word with me and it really hit home. I'm probably glad he did that," said the man who now occupies second place on Northern Ireland's scoring charts with 14.

"Michael is the best manager I've played under and he gets the best from me and pulls me to one side before every game. What he says inspires me and gets me up for the games. I'm buzzing playing for him."

Lafferty has been named man-of-the-match in all four Northern Irish wins, away in Hungary and Greece and at home against the Faroe Islands and Finland.

But while he grows increasingly comfortable with being the side's headline grabber, he is equally keen to share the plaudits.

"I don't like calling myself a hero, I think all the boys were heroes out there," he said.

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