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Azerbaijan was turning point: Evans.

Byline: LAURE JAMES

JONNY EVANS is determined to bury the Baku memory of Northern Ireland's lowest point.

The defender was sent off against Azerbaijan in October 2013 in a 2-0 defeat, after having been embarrassed by Luxembourg in the forgettable 2015 World Cup campaign.

"It was probably a turning point for me," the West Brom ace (below) admits. "I had a head loss in the game and it wasn't going well, so I lashed out at someone. I spoke to Michael [O'Neill] after and we were talking about it and I got a lot of things off my chest.

"I didn't want to be in the position again where I had felt like I let him down, and my family down, so I said, right, no more of that.

"There had been spells in the past where my temper would have got the better of me and I'd had a few sendings off."

Now approaching 30, and one of the team's senior leaders, Evans, who captained Northern Ireland to Friday night's 1-0 friendly win over New Zealand, is a changed player, and man.

Crediting boss O'Neill with instilling a more measured winning mentality and with a 4-0 home win over them this campaign, Evans is confident Saturday's World Cup qualifier with Azerbaijan will be a different story.

or oo, n "We have so much respect for Michael now and we did then too, so to have seen how we let him down was obviously really disappointing. The form, m players have to go out and perform, but he has created that platform for us to go and do what we do.

ent me, "I think it will be a very different game out there. They actually had more possession than us at home, we got a few goals and the game was dead by then, but I think they'll come at us more."

The ex-Manchester United star has matured into a key player at the Hawthorns, partnering Northern Ireland team-mate Gareth McAuley in the heart of defence. Yet he hasn't ruled out a continental move, to brush up on his Spanish.

sh.

it est "It's always something which has appealed to me. I speak a fair bit of Spanish now, since I came to West Brom I've been learning. I had a long commute so I thought I'd learn."

"

CAPTION(S):

EARLY BATH Jonny Evans is sent off in Baku, Azerbaijan way back in 2013

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:9AZER
Date:Jun 4, 2017
Words:405
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