Northern Ireland will, this evening, compete to secure a place in the Euro 2016 knockout stages.
Michael O’Neill’s side gave themselves real hope of advancing after securing a superb 2-0 win over Ukraine last week - and now prepare to take on the mighty world champions, Germany, in Paris tonight.
However, one absentee from the Northern Ireland squad is the former Celtic winger Paddy McCourt. It’s now been revealed why the 32-year-old is not at the European Championships in France.
SIGN UP NOW
Want to become a GMS writer? Sign up now and submit a 250-word test article: https://gms.to/haveyoursay4
McCourt has told reporters of his wife’s diagnosis with a brain tumour - per BBC News - and admits everything pales into insignificance, including Euro 2016, after discovering the news.
The Derry-born football also decided to end his spell with Luton Town in the summer by mutual consent in order to look after his ill partner.
"I called Michael (O'Neill), explained what had happened and told him I wasn't going to be available for the Euros," McCourt revealed in an interview with The Times. "When something like that happens, your only thought is for your family."
The nightmare started after a holiday
The Northern Ireland international, who has been capped 18 times by his country, explained their life was turned upside down after returning from a holiday.
"The flight landed at Gatwick and was taxiing to the airport when she had a seizure on the bus," McCourt continued. "Paramedics were called to the scene and they rang me.
"They said they were going to send her to East Surrey Hospital. Naturally, I was very concerned.
"Within 48 hours it came back that they had found a brain tumour.”
The tumour, although benign, was growing and the operation was carried out a day before Euro 2016 started, on June 9.
O’Neill told the player to be there for his wife and ‘don’t think think about the Euros’.
Positive outcome after operation
"It was absolutely nerve racking," McCourt added, "but thankfully we were given the best possible news afterwards, which was that everything had been positive.
"Laura is now recovering and we're told that in four to six months, please God, she will be completely back to normal."
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: https://www.givemesport.com/writeforgms