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How Football Manager helped ex-Man Utd defender's international call-up

Goal.com logo Goal.com 27-04-2017

West Brom defender Jonny Evans has revealed how computer game Football Manager was responsible for his international debut with Northern Ireland.

The centre-back was on loan at Royal Antwerp from Manchester United at the time, and would not have had to wait for his first senior cap with his country if it were not for the management simulation.

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"It's actually a funny story. Well, I think it's a funny story," Evans told Graham Hunter's Big Interview.

"I played, I think it was against Germany, for the Under-21s, on a Friday night. I get a call on a Saturday night. Northern Ireland have been beaten 3-0 by Iceland and Sanchez was not happy.

"I got a call, 'We want you in the full squad tomorrow morning.' I think I was actually on my day out to a nightclub. I carried on my night anyway and joined up with the squad the next day."

Evans made his debut against Spain as Lawrie Sanchez's side shocked the European giants with a 3-2 victory, but only got his chance because Northern Ireland assistant Terry Gibson was told about the then 19-year-old by his son after spotting him on the PC game.

"We were training and I think Sanchez could see after a few sessions that I could use my left foot. So he's thought, 'Right, I'll put him at left-back in the session.' As I'm playing left-back, he's thought, 'I'm going to have to play him.'

"He was so impressed with me in training, he just thought he'd have to throw me in. He just said to me, 'You're going to play.'

"Terry Gibson later told me that the reason I got called up... Sanchez didn't know anything about me at the time, I played reserve football.

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"He [Gibson] said, 'We didn't know anything about you, but my son saw you on Championship Manager.'

"The son recommended me to Terry, Terry recommended me to Sanchez and that's how it went. I ended up playing the game, 3-2, a David Healy hat-trick."

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