Conor Washington speaks of missed opportunity to deliver Northern Ireland late victory over Italy: “It was just a rubbish connection”

Conor Washington is determined to stay positive despite the disappointment of being just inches away from inserting his name into Northern Irish football folklore.

with the score 0-0 in the 90th minute of Monday’s World Cup qualifier, an error by Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma left him helpless and substitute Washington racing to goal with the ball at his feet.

Two defenders converged on him but the Charlton striker turned in to shoot with his left foot.

The league was not as strong as he wanted, allowing Italy center-back and captain Leonardo Bonucci to clear on the line.

And with that, Washington, carrying No.9 on the back, missed the opportunity to join David Healy in the 21st century record books to beat one of the big boys at Windsor Park.

“It’s one of those as a striker. When you pass him (Donnarumma), you think, ‘Do I have to pull the trigger?’ but if the way I took the opportunity comes in then obviously no one questions that. That’s just the life of being a striker, “explained Washington.

“It was one of those where you get into that position and you think you did everything right, but, left foot, it was just a rubbish connection, I just didn’t get it enough.

“It almost snuck in, anything in the corner or a little higher obviously enters.

“I’m disappointed with the way it’s finished but it was nice to get in there and keep my composure up to that point.

“My job is to get to those positions and score goals. Obviously I didn’t do that but I came in and managed to get into some of those positions, so I’ll try to take the positives.”

One of those was a lively display of the bench causing the much-watched Italian defense problems in his 20-minute cameo in the middle of a wall of Windsor noise.

“The atmosphere was absolutely bright, probably as good as I saw here,” said Euro 2016 star Washington.

“They were right behind us, which makes it easier when the lungs go and the legs go.

“You hear that and you get an extra boost. It’s disappointing not to have won the game and, from a personal point of view, not to have gotten the winner, but it was a good night.

“It’s a bit of a validation of where we’re going, the journey we’ve made. We see ourselves as a team that can challenge at the top of groups and obviously such performances prove that.

“I think there’s another major tournament in us.

“We were in and around (qualifying) as long as I was in the squad; in both previous campaigns we had been disappointed not to get there, which in my opinion is a sign of how far we have come.

“So you look at the bands we had – crazy, really, and this one was no different.

“Switzerland did well at the Euros and Italy are obviously the European champions, so we didn’t get particularly nice hands.

“We’ve still been in and around it in this group and I certainly feel like we’ll be around qualifying ahead.”

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