A German supporter is set to be reunited tomorrow with the Northern Ireland fan he befriended over a bottle of Bushmills whiskey when the teams met at Euro 2016.
The fan of the world champions – Werner – had shared some football banter and some Black Bush with Neil Fenn from Portstewart before the game last June which Germany won 1-0.
As Northern Ireland set out to gain some revenge for that result tomorrow night at Windsor Park, Werner and Neil plan to meet up before the game after a Facebook appeal got them back in touch.
Having got his hands on tickets for the Belfast showdown, Werner had put out an appeal on social media to be put in contact with the Northern Ireland fan he hit it off with in Paris.
Werner said all he knew about the man was that he had two sons and was from the Bushmills area.
He was also able to provide a picture to help identify his football friend.
The appeal was shared widely on Facebook and soon the Bushmills man was identified as 60-year-old Neil Fenn.
Neil explained how the pair bonded in Paris: “My sons (Thomas and Matthew) were already in Paris.
“I had arranged a rendezvous point with them and that was where I met Werner.
“We started chatting and he asked me where I came from. I used to live in Germany for a while so I could speak a little bit of German and he spoke a little bit of English.
“At time we were sharing a bottle of Black Bush and, pointing to the bottle, I said I live right next door to Bushmills in Portstewart. That must have stuck with him.”
Neil moved to the Province in his late teens from England. He said: “I moved here with my dad, he moved on and I stayed. I married a local girl from Portstewart and we’ve been married for 40 years in June.”
The Portstewart man is hopeful he will be reunited with his German pal tomorrow: “I’ve sent him and email and a voice message but haven’t heard from him yet,” he said.
“I’ve a feeling he might be travelling over in a campervan so maybe he hasn’t got any reception yet. I’ve told him I’ll be in the Empire bar from 4pm.
“Our local paper – the Ballycastle Chronicle – told me Werner has told them he will meet me, though I haven’t heard from him myself yet. It would be really good to see him again. We hit it off well.
“That day was absolutely mad. I can understand why that man enjoyed it, because I certainly enjoyed it.
“Looking at that photo takes me back. The Black Bush was in that M&S bag I’m holding and if you look at my socks in that photo you’ll see that one’s green and one’s white. That’s what I wear all the time.”
He added: “A few weeks ago I actually wondered if Werner would be back here for the match and on Tuesday when this started it was surreal. So many people over the world have contacted me because of this photo that’s been shared.”
Neil’s prediction for tomorrow night is for a 2-1 win for NI with Gareth McAuley scoring first. He is also going to have a bet on Germany’s goal in the 2-1 scoreline being an own goal so the Germans will not score at Windsor Park.