Mr Versatile Niall Quinn has been branded Linfield’s “poster boy” by boss David Healy.
The Blues had Quinn to thank for securing Saturday’s 1-0 win over Ballymena United as the alert defender was in the right place at the right time to block Conor Keeley’s injury-time effort on goal.
And Healy was keen to settle the debate as to where the ‘right place’ is for Quinn in the champions’ team, insisting that the home-grown star’s versatility should only ever be seen as a positive.
The 28-year-old, who has made 334 appearances for the club since making his debut in 2012, has been utilised at right-back in recent games.
“Niall Quinn was immense,” said Healy. “People keep asking ‘why does Healy play Niall Quinn out of position?’.
“I don’t think I can play Niall out of position because I can play him anywhere and Niall Quinn never, ever lets me down.
“A fantastic servant, zero hassle, and his block at the end epitomised Niall’s time at Linfield.
“It was a key moment, especially so late in the game. If they score we drop two points.”
It was Quinn’s second big contribution to the victory, as the Blues bounced back from last Tuesday’s defeat to Larne in the County Antrim Shield final.
The tenacious 28-year-old also showed quality and composure to tee up Christy Manzinga’s brilliant winner in the 15th minute.
“His performances, the way he goes about things, Niall is basically our ‘poster boy’ for the academy,” said Healy.
“Niall’s probably played about 80 to 85 per cent of the games since I’ve been at the club and at most he’s probably had one or two off-days in that time.
“More often than not, when Niall is fit, Niall plays, whether it be left side of midfield, left wing back, right back, centre midfield.
“It’s not the case that he’s filling in for somebody. He’s not a jack of all trades, master of none. He’s a master of quite a lot of things.
“He’s very underrated, a brilliant lad. He loves his football and loves Celtic!
“For our academy to produce not only a player like Niall but a person, with the success he’s had here, is great.
“He’s a crowd favourite and the fans love him.”
Ballymena boss David Jeffrey said: “How Niall Quinn got to Conor Keeley’s blockbuster I do not know.
“We didn’t do enough to win the game but we did enough to get a point.”