William and Kate visit home of Northern Ireland football team in Belfast

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have kicked off a two-day visit to Northern Ireland with a trip to the home of the Northern Ireland national football team.

William and Kate were greeted by scores of cheering schoolchildren and stopped to chat with the crowds, with the duchess being presented with a number of bunches of flowers, at Windsor Park in Belfast.

International boss Michael O’Neill was among senior Irish Football Association staff who welcomed them at the entrance to the recently redeveloped venue.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving for their visit to Windsor Park (Aaron Chown/PA)

O’Neill, who himself won 31 caps playing for Northern Ireland, has been credited with bringing the glory days back to the team during his tenure as manager.

He led the side to its first major tournament in 30 years at the 2016 European Championships in France.

The duchess was wearing a red Carolina Herrera coat on the football-themed visit.

The Duchess of Cambridge at Windsor Park, Belfast
Kate wore a red Carolina Herrera coat (Liam McBurney/PA)

During their tour of the venue, the couple also met Northern Ireland footballing great Pat Jennings.

Former Tottenham and Arsenal goalkeeper Jennings is Northern Ireland’s record caps holder, with 119 appearances during a career that took in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups.

William and Kate were shown a bronze cast print of the stopper’s celebrated “safe hands” as they walked through the stadium’s heritage centre.

The Cambridges will carry out a series of public engagements at a range of locations on Wednesday and Thursday.

It is the third time the couple have visited the region together.

During their visit to Windsor Park, they learnt about initiatives to get more women in “key decision roles within football” and a programme aimed at young people who are not in employment, education or training.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving at Windsor Park, Belfast, for a two-day trip to Northern Ireland @PAImages#RoyalVisitNIpic.twitter.com/acUUdsL0lh

— PA Royal Reporters (@PARoyal) February 27, 2019

They will travel to the Roscor Youth Village charity in Co Fermanagh, which is a residential activity centre for children referred by social workers.

Their final visit of the day will be to Belfast Empire Hall to celebrate “inspirational young people who are making a real difference in Northern Ireland”.