If I have to pick up the single most important game I have played during my career the game against Northern Ireland would have been the one! It was a great feeling to taste the excitement of ending up top of our group. In times when you don't get to play for your club, a chance to play for the national team is the ideal opportunity to get involved. I was even the captain of the team. I could not ask for more!
As far as the game was concerned I had expected Northern Ireland to play defensively and I was proven right. They stayed in the back and tried to keep us away from their box. They actually did a good job and I would not like to think how the game would have ended up have we not won the penalty. Well it's all history now and I think this is what matters at the end of the day.
We have actually kept six consecutive clean sheets, which I think the key to our success was the defense. We now have plenty of time to prepare for the finals. It is obviously important to be as ready as possible as the level of the competition will be as high as it can get. We will have to face many of the best teams in the world and it is not going to be an easy task. It is something though that everyone in the team is looking for. We have worked hard to create a solid team and are going to work even harder to get this team as high as possible.
Personally speaking, the national team was a great opportunity to get involved in the action, as I have not had any first team football with United for some time now. I have to thank the manager for trusting me. A call up under these circumstances means I have an additional reason to live up to the expectations. I believe I have fulfilled my duty and have not let him down.
Nikos Dabizas >