Kyle Lafferty: Michael O'Neill gets best out of me

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Kyle Lafferty has scored 14 goals for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland's goal hero Kyle Lafferty has described international boss Michael O'Neill as the best manager he has played under.

The 27-year-old striker, on loan at Rizespor from Norwich, is spearheading his country's impressive push for a place at Euro 2016 in France.

He scored both goals in Sunday's 2-1 win over Finland in Belfast.

"What Michael says inspires me and gets me up for the games. I'm buzzing playing for him," said Lafferty.

"He is the best manager I have played under and gets the best from me. He pulls me to one side before every game."

Lafferty has been named man of the match in all four of Northern Ireland's Group F wins - away in Hungary and Greece and at home against the Faroe Islands and Finland.

Following his sweetly struck volley and deft header against the Finns, Lafferty, who has also played for Burnley, Rangers, Sion and Palermo, sits on five goals from five qualifiers.

And Northern Ireland find themselves on 12 points from a possible 15.

In O'Neill's first campaign, Lafferty contributed more red cards (one) than goals (zero), as they finished one point above bottom-placed Luxembourg in their World Cup qualifying group.

"The last campaign I let everyone down, but Michael had a word with me and it really hit home," said the striker.

"I am probably glad he did that. The trust he has shown in me means a lot. I don't like calling myself a hero, I think all the boys were heroes out there.

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty in action against Sakari Mattila of Finland
Kyle Lafferty is second on Northern Ireland's all-time scoring chart with 14

"I scored two goals which is brilliant for me personally, but if I don't score another goal in the campaign and we qualify I will be happy enough."

A place in France next summer would be a remarkable achievement for a side who have never reached a European Championship before and last made the World Cup finals in 1986.

But belief is starting to turn to expectation.

"We can't get ahead of ourselves but if we keep playing like we are now, it would be a disappointment if we didn't get there," added Lafferty.

"The next game in June is going to be massive for us against Romania because it is a top-of-the-table clash."

Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward competes against Jere Uronen of Finland
Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward competes against Jere Uronen of Finland

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Sunday 29th March 2015

View all European Championship Qualifying results

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Czech Rep5410116513
2Iceland54011221012
3Netherlands521211657
4Turkey512268-25
5Latvia5032211-93
6Kazakhstan5014413-91

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Wales532072511
2Israel43019549
3Belgium4220121118
4Cyprus5203910-16
5Bos-Herze512256-15
6Andorra5005220-180

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Slovakia5500112915
2Spain54011431112
3Ukraine53026249
4Belarus5113410-64
5Macedonia5104512-73
6Luxembourg5014314-111

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Poland53201631311
2Germany531194510
3Scotland5311115610
4R. of Ireland522111478
5Georgia510449-53
6Gibraltar5005127-260

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1England55001511415
2Slovenia530210469
3Switzerland530211389
4Lithuania5203310-76
5Estonia511315-44
6San Marino5014017-171

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Romania541071613
2Northern Ireland540184412
3Hungary52214318
4Finland511357-24
5Faroe Islands510427-53
6Greece502315-42

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Austria5410102813
2Sweden52307349
3Russia41216335
4Montenegro41213215
5Liechtenstein5113111-104
6Moldova501428-61

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Croatia54101521313
2Italy532084411
3Norway530278-19
4Bulgaria512267-15
5Azerbaijan5104411-73
6Malta501419-81

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Portugal43014229
2Denmark42116427
3Albania421145-17
4Serbia41126601
5Armenia401336-31
View full European Championship Qualifying tables

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