Kilmarnock striker Kyle Lafferty will wear the Northern Ireland captain’s armband tonight – and the former Burnley striker wants to make his sister proud.
The Killie striker will lead his side out against the USA, looking for his first goal on the international scene since 2016. It’ll be an emotional occasion for Lafferty, the former Burnley forward’s sister, Sonia, passing away prior to his nation’s Euro play-off final defeat by Slovakia in November.
That was in Northern Ireland’s last home game and now Lafferty is keen to make her proud: “It will always be tough. I don’t think anyone can prepare themselves to lose a loved one. I was very close to my sister, she was my biggest fan.
“To be on the pitch to represent her at that time was important to me and I think she would have wanted me to be there. You lose someone that you are close to and love, but she would have wanted me to play football and every single game I go out now thinking about her and trying to score goals for her.
“Hopefully I can go out and get a goal for her on Sunday night. It’s always going to be tough, especially for my mum and dad to lose one of their children, but we stick together. We are a very close family who are always helping each other out and are there for each other. She will be proud of me no matter what I do but I obviously have to make her proud.”
Now back in the UK with Killie, Lafferty knows he has a big job to do on both the international and domestic scenes, Killie fighting for Scottish Premiership survival: “I’m getting old but I’m still trying to play a part in the team and be involved in the squad.
“It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve been involved, the hunger to play for your country will always be there no matter what age you are. Tommy Wright (Kilmarnock manager) is playing me, giving me game time. Every manager who has put their faith in me I have gone out and performed.
“I’m back in the UK, back close to my family which plays a massive part and I’m happy off the field, which will make me perform to my highest levels. We’re in a relegation battle so it’s all to play for.”
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