Paul Ferguson: Steven Davis doesn’t get a better win in Northern Ireland than a draw with Italy… who can blame him for now retiring?

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If this is goodbye to Northern Ireland midfield magician Steven Davis, what a way to leave the international stage. A leading man to the end.

He played instrumental roles in Northern Ireland’s historic and incredible victories over England and Spain in 2005 and 2006 respectively, 15 odd years later and 36 years old still producing at an incredibly high level to help his country strangle European champions Italy . and have them qualify for the World Cup play-offs, where Switzerland, which beat Bulgaria 4-0 in Lausanne last night, automatically qualified for Qatar.

The best of Cullybackey deservedly received a standing ovation from Windsor Park loyalists, and he stayed a little longer than his teammates to enjoy and absorb that admiration. And while enjoying a long hug with manager Ian Baraclough, Davis deserved every cheer and hymn addressed to him.